NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Busch moves back to No. 1

Welcome to the Granite State. Sunday’s race is the Cup Series’ only trip to New Hampshire.

1. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)

Busch lost out to brother Kurt on the final restart of the race and lost out to Joey Logano ahead of the caution that caused the final restart. So why the heck did he move up two spots? We can’t get over this move that he made on the penultimate lap.

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What an impressive move by Kyle Busch (via NBC)
What an impressive move by Kyle Busch (via NBC)

Somehow Busch went from being in the middle three-wide and sailed his car ahead of his brother’s. Kurt was able to inch back on the high side and ultimately take the win, but this was one of the craziest intermediate track moves of the season.

2. Joey Logano (LW: 1)

It’s harsh to move Logano down from the top spot after he was an inflated tire away from winning on Saturday. But given the outsized importance of restarts in the Cup Series, it may actually be appropriate to drop Logano after that restart. He ended up finishing seventh despite starting it first.

3. Kurt Busch (LW: 6)

NASCAR’s overachiever has his first win of the season. Busch is still just tied for sixth in the points standings despite having the third-best average finish in 2019. He’s finishing better than he’s running, but that’s risky.

The constant late-race improvement doesn’t leave as much margin for error. Busch could and should be a guy who gets to the final eight in the playoffs. But it’s still too early to call him a true final four contender.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 2)

Truex started eighth yet ended up finishing 19th and a lap down.

5. Denny Hamlin (LW: 5)

Hamlin got an uncontrolled tire penalty and had to make up a bunch of track position in the third stage of the race.

How Denny Hamlin got penalized for an uncontrolled tire at Kentucky. (Via NBC)
How Denny Hamlin got penalized for an uncontrolled tire at Kentucky. (Via NBC)

He still finished fifth despite having older tires at the end of the race as his team used some pit strategy to get that track position back.

“We had to make a call with no tires there and we didn’t gain track position. We had worse tires than everyone around us and still was able to come up to fifth, so pretty happy with that effort. We have fast cars every week. As long as we have a clean race, we have chances to win and we just can’t have the penalties that we have and wrecks that we’ve had. It’s just a combination of things where we’re really, really close.”

6. Chase Elliott (LW: 4)

This is where it starts to get a little messy. Elliott caused the first caution of the race for a flat tire. There must have been some debris to cause that caution but NBC never showed it. He quickly got his lap back but then ended up going high and near the wall late in the race. He finished 15th.

7. Brad Keselowski (LW: 9)

Keselowski had a fast car in qualifying but, like Truex, that didn’t translate to the race. He finished 20th.

8. Alex Bowman (LW: 7)

Bowman was 17th. He didn’t have nearly the same speed that he had a couple weeks ago at Chicago. Maybe the preponderance of traction compound on the track had something to do with it. There was sticky stuff in all four turns at Kentucky. There’s going to be sticky stuff in the corners at New Hampshire on Sunday and sticky stuff in the turns at Pocono, too.

NASCAR is sure having to do a lot of track manipulation to make the racing better with its 2019 rules.

9. Kevin Harvick (LW: 8)

Yep, Harvick had some issues during Saturday night’s race.

He finished 22nd.

10. Erik Jones (LW: 11)

Harvick has been so consistently good that he got to stay ahead of Jones despite Jones’ third-place finish.

Jones is now in 16th in the standings and currently lodged in the final playoff spot by two points ahead of Ryan Newman.

11. Aric Almirola (LW: 10)

Almirola started second, had a pretty fast car and finished 14th.

12. Kyle Larson (LW: NR)

Larson was fourth and had a good view of the racing right ahead of him on that final restart.

“I couldn’t believe we didn’t crash,” Larson said. “Kyle was loose a couple of times below him and they made contact, I think, a couple of times. There was some really good car control and it was fun to watch from my seat.”

Lucky Dog: Chris Buescher finished 10th.

The DNF: Austin Dillon was 35th because of a transmission issue. He’s going to need a win if he wants to make the playoffs.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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