Welcome to the 2018 edition of our weekly NASCAR Power Rankings. Our continuing feature will attempt to rank and assess the moment’s top 12 drivers in the Cup Series. You’ll probably disagree with our rankings. And that’s fine. Give us your feedback either in the comments below or on Twitter.
1. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): Busch jumps above Martin Truex Jr. because he now has two more wins and above Kevin Harvick because he’s tied with Harvick in the wins column and has more points than Harvick does.
Busch’s total of five wins so far this season is remarkable and so is his consistency. His average finish is 6.8; more than 1.5 positions better than Harvick’s.
2. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 1): Truex had a great charge through the field, especially in the first half of the race. He had to start at the back of the field after his car failed inspection following qualifying and he charged up towards the front in little time.
But he didn’t have a race-winning car in the late laps of the race. It was a bit like a reverse Busch, who thought his car was terrible in the first half of the race and suddenly was a contender in the final stage.
3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): Harvick finished third and drops a spot. That’s how it goes when you’ve got the same drivers occupying the top spots every week. As NBC’s Nate Ryan pointed out, Harvick, Busch and Truex have combined to win the last 12 races at 1.5-mile tracks. Who is going to be the driver that breaks that stretch?
4. Clint Bowyer (LW: 4): Bowyer bounced back after a dreadful pit sequence in the first stage and finished fifth. The rest of the season is about bonus point accumulation for Bowyer, who is the only other driver outside the top three that has 10 or more playoff points.
5. Kyle Larson (LW: 10): Please makes sure you greatly appreciate that Larson saved his car from spinning completely around after he got bumped by Busch and also still finished second. Granted, it helped that he and Busch were so far ahead of Harvick on the final lap, but a lesser driver crashes his car into the inside wall.
6. Joey Logano (LW: 8): Logano moves up from the eighth spot after finishing eighth.
7. Denny Hamlin (LW: 11): Hamlin started in 37th, spun off turn 2 with less than 100 laps to go and finished seventh. That’s pretty good, right?
8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 7): Keselowski finished ninth after dealing with what he thought was a loose wheel over the final run of the race.
“We were a little better, probably a fifth place car today,” Keselowski said. “I probably cost us a couple of spots but that is just the way it goes. I think we are the same we have been. We can run fifth-to-10th at the 1.5 mile tracks but we are behind the 78, 18 and Stewart-Haas cars.”
9. Kurt Busch (LW: 5): Busch was in the gaggle of lapped traffic that slowed his brother down and allowed Kyle Larson to get a chance to race for the win on the final lap. We can’t blame Kurt or any other driver for racing hard at that point because they were racing for position and the right to potentially gain a few more spots on a late-race restart.
10. Chase Elliott (LW: 6): Elliott was within sniffing distance of the front of the field on the race’s last restart with 55 laps to go. He ended up getting lapped before the end of the race.
11. Aric Almirola (LW: 9): Almirola might have had a race-winning car. But he didn’t have great restarts and had two instances of loose wheels that forced him to come to pit road. He said after the race that his team has to be perfect to get a win and he’s right. With the way the top three teams are dominating this season, lesser teams can’t afford to make a mistake — let alone one multiple mistakes — in a race.
12. Erik Jones (LW: NR): Jones finished sixth on Sunday. That’s two-straight top-10 finishes for him.
The Lucky Dog: There wasn’t much deviation in the top 10 on Sunday … so Alex Bowman? He was 10th.
The DNF: Austin Dillon was 37th after a fire in the right-front wheel hub. He’s nine points away from falling out of the top 20 in the points standings.
Dropped out: Ryan Blaney
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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