NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron back on top, Martin Truex Jr. on the rise

NASCAR Power Rankings: Byron back on top, Truex on the rise originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Martin Truex Jr. is back in victory lane.

The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion won his 32nd career race on Monday at Dover Motor Speedway, which was also the site of his first career win back in 2007. With the victory, Truex snapped a 54-race winless streak.

Truex is now locked into the playoffs after missing out last season.

This weekend, the Cup Series heads west to Kansas Speedway for a race around the 1.5-mile tri-oval (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET).

So, who’s the driver to beat after the 11th race of 2023? Here’s our latest power rankings:

1. William Byron

Last week: 2

The 25-year-old Byron is back on top after a solid fourth-place finish at Dover. He led 193 of 400 laps before fading in the final stage. Byron already has four top-five finishes in 11 races this season after scoring five in 36 races last season.

2. Kyle Larson

Last week: 1

For the second straight race, Larson was caught up in someone else’s mess. The 2021 champion appeared to have a good car, but he wrecked and finished 32nd after Ross Chastain inexplicably collided with a lapped car.

In his last five races this season, Larson has two wins and three finishes outside the top-30. It’s truly been feast or famine for the No. 5 team.

3. Christopher Bell

Last week: 3

There’s good news and bad news after Bell’s Dover performance. The good news is that he finished sixth, giving him a series-best eighth top-10 of the season. No other driver has more than six top-10s so far. The bad news is that he lost the overall points lead, falling three points behind Chastain in what’s becoming a compelling battle.

4. Ross Chastain

Last week: 5

Speaking of Chastain, the Melon Man had yet another impressive finish at Dover – second behind Truex, his best of the season. But the controversy continues to build as Chastain doesn’t seem to race as cleanly as his competitors would like. You can’t argue with the results, but it feels like someone will pay him back one of these days.

5. Kevin Harvick

Last week: 4

The rough patch continues for Harvick with a 19th-place finish at Dover – his third straight finish between 19th and 21st. In the early portion of the race, Harvick appeared to have a decent car capable of a top-10 finish. A tire problem at the end of Stage 2 put him a lap down, though, and he was unable to recover.

6. Denny Hamlin

Last week: 9

After not scoring a top-five in the first eight races of 2023, Hamlin now has two in his last three starts. He was fifth at Dover, which almost felt like a disappointment considering the speed he showed in Stage 1. Slow pit stops hurt Hamlin throughout the race, but he’s still moving in the right direction after a rocky start to the season.

7. Tyler Reddick

Last week: 10

Seventh at Dover represented Reddick’s first finish inside the top-10 that wasn’t also a top-five. For the most part this season, he’s either been fighting for wins or mired in the back. Reddick should be excited to get to Kansas, where the No. 45 car won both races last year – first with Kurt Busch, then with Bubba Wallace. Reddick will hope to three-peat for 23XI Racing.

8. Martin Truex Jr.

Last week: first four out

After retirement rumors last year, it was fair to wonder if the 42-year-old Truex would ever win again. He put those doubts to rest on Monday, leading 68 laps and fending off multiple challengers on the final restart to seal the victory. Truex has quietly risen to fourth in the points standings with three top-10s in the last four weeks.

To make the week even sweeter, his younger brother Ryan won his first career Xfinity Series race on Saturday:

9. Kyle Busch

Last week: 6

From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Busch followed up his Talladega win with a miserable day in Dover. He started on the pole and led the first 22 laps. He then got a pit road speeding penalty, gambled by staying out on old tires and dropped all the way back to finish three laps down in 21st.

10. Joey Logano

Last week: 8

While Busch’s race at least started off well, Logano never had a positive moment. He started 26th and went multiple laps down due to speed and excessive tire wear. To put a cherry on top, Logano crashed out in the final laps. It’s not something you expect from a powerhouse like Team Penske and a champion like Logano.

First four out: Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott