NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Busch stays at No. 1 while Joey Logano moves up

Yahoo Sports

After Monday’s Michigan race, the Cup Series heads into the Father’s Day off weekend before a trip to Sonoma.

1. Kyle Busch (LW: 1)

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Busch wasn’t contending for the lead for much of the day. But he worked his way toward the top 10 as the race went on and found himself in a position for a top-five finish.

After he restarted fourth on the final restart, Busch fell to fifth over the final two laps of the race. He said the finish was thanks to a fantastic final pit sequence and not because the car necessarily got better over the course of the race.

2. Joey Logano (LW: 4)

Logano had the wonderful combination of the race’s fastest car and the clean air that comes with being in first place. No one really challenged Logano over long runs despite NASCAR’s rules keeping drivers closer together throughout the course of the race. And when someone was able to get past Logano shortly after a restart, he got the lead back relatively easily.

“The execution, the strategy, the pit stops,” Logano said of how excellent his day was. “The driver did pretty good, too. Made one mistake, but made up for it. That's good. Ultimately victory lane.”

“You don't have days like that that are so close to perfect. That doesn't happen very often in our sport.”

Logano now has the points lead over Busch by nine.

3. Brad Keselowski (LW: 3)

Keselowski ended up sixth after he lost a lap because of a pit road penalty when a crew member tried to reach over the wall to get a tire and ended up putting his hand on pit road.

He got the lap back when a caution flag flew with 70 laps to go. From there, Keselowski worked his way back to the top 10 and he made an interesting observation from the time he spent during the race in traffic.

“The cars when they get behind each other they make the car in front of them faster,” Keselowski said. “If you go back 20-30 years ago that was not the case. You would draft but you wouldn’t make the car in front of you faster. Now it seems like when you get up behind somebody you make them faster too.”

Maybe that’s also how Logano was able to stay ahead of everyone else. He had a fast car with clean air that got even faster when someone got to his bumper.

4. Chase Elliott (LW: 2)

Elliott was eighth in the first stage of the race and seemed to have a fast car. But contact with the wall in the final stage set the team back considerably. After a pit stop to fix the damage Elliott ended up finishing 20th.

Joey Logano crossed the finish line ahead of Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. (AP)
Joey Logano crossed the finish line ahead of Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. (AP)

5. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 5)

Truex ended up losing a position with the final caution of the race. He was all set to finish second to Logano but was third after he got passed by Kurt Busch in the extra laps.

“He was just really fast,” Truex said. “I don’t know if we could have done anything with him. We were going to need one heck of a push from behind – a shove down the straightaway. I could get a little bit of a run, but never enough to get next to him and surely not enough to get next to him and clear him getting in the corner.”

6. Kevin Harvick (LW: 6)

Harvick might have been the driver best positioned to battle Logano. Alas, he wasn’t close enough to Logano at the end of the race.

A four-tire pit stop during the final green-flag pit stop sequence put Harvick at the back of the top 10. With tire wear minimal throughout the race, the two extra fresh tires didn’t really matter much on the final restart and Harvick ended up finishing seventh.

Harvick (15) was the only driver outside of Logano (163) to lead more than seven laps.

7. Kurt Busch (LW: 10)

Busch had a car that was still fast even after he hit the wall early in the race. He got close to Logano over the race’s final two laps but was never in a position to try a pass before the checkered flag flew.

Today, it was like ‘hell, we don’t need to get anything but the win,’” Busch said. “And, we got second today. Logano’s car was tough. I really wanted it to go green at the end and push Truex, Jr. through to the No. 22. That was my best shot at it.”

8. Denny Hamlin (LW: 7)

Hamlin led the first three laps of the race and then led two more late thanks to the last pit stop cycle. He finished 11th.

Alex Bowman gained 10 spots throughout Monday's race. (Getty Images)
Alex Bowman gained 10 spots throughout Monday's race. (Getty Images)

9. Alex Bowman (LW: 9)

Bowman started 20th and finished 10th on Monday. And thanks to Clint Bowyer’s crash he’s now in 10th in the points standings.

“Hopefully it worked out to be a good race, it looked like a good race from where I was at,” Bowman said. “It was really hard to pass without help, but we were still able to come through the field more than you were in practice, so that was good. I wish we would have ended up a little better, but we’ll take it and move on.”

10. Ryan Blaney (LW: NR)

Blaney is a point ahead of Bowman in ninth in the standings. He also, coincidentally enough, finished ninth on Monday.

11. Aric Almirola (LW: 12)

Almirola ran in the top 10 for much of the race but ended up 17th.

12. Reader’s Choice

Bowyer crashed into the wall. He clipped Erik Jones when he did that and Jones caused the final caution of the race with a flat tire with less than five laps to go. Jimmie Johnson and William Byron both had meh days. Kyle Larson finished 14th. Daniel Suarez got a fourth-place finish. Really, you could pick any of a half-dozen drivers for this spot and have a good case.

The Lucky Dog: Ryan Newman was 8th and is now three points out of the final playoff spot. How Newman would that be if he snuck into the playoffs with an average finish of 15th?

The DNF: Bowyer, who finished 35th.

Dropped out: The same guy who got the DNF

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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