Power Ranking After: Dover 1

·10 min read


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Two weeks ago Martin Truex Jr. dominated and won the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. Last week, Kyle Larson dominated the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway, but he was forced to settle for the runner-up position for the second straight week.

Second-place Larson was part of a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Hendrick Motorsports.

How rare an accomplishment is that? The last time it was accomplished was in November, 2005 when Roush Fenway Racing placed Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards at the top of the order. Before that, Pete DePaolo performed the feat twice in the mid-1950s. Those are the only times a team has swept the top four positions.

While that does not necessarily make HMS the organization to beat on a weekly basis, it certainly separates them from the crowd and is an incentive to place them in your weekly betting strategy. Of course strength is also measured by consistency and only one of the Hendrick mates is among the top five in this week’s Power Rankings.

Top 10

1. Denny Hamlin (last week: 2) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Weeks as #1: 7
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 5.71
With a seventh-place finish and the fourth-best Average Running Position, Hamlin reclaimed the top spot in the Power Rankings from teammate Martin Truex Jr. That wasn’t the way most experts had it planned, but it allowed Hamlin to pad his points lead. He may not have won a Cup race in 2021 yet, but with a 100+ margin over second in the standings, he is the frontrunner to qualify for the playoffs as the points leader and will get a sizeable number of bonus points if that happens.

2. William Byron (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 8
Cup wins: 1 (Homestead)
Power Average: 6.20
Byron remains remarkable. His fourth-place finish in the Drydene 400 is his fourth top-five in the last six races and his 11th straight top-10. He still has a ways to go in order to tie and pass Jeff Gordon’s streak of 14 consecutive top-10s earned in 1995, but he is not showing any signs of slowing down. The Circuit of the Americas road course could prove to be a challenge, however, because he was 33rd on the Daytona road course in Week 2 of the season.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 1) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 12
Weeks as #1: 2
Cup wins: 2 (Phoenix, Martinsville 1, Darlington 1)
Power Average: 7.00
Everyone was ready to award Truex the trophy on paper – but that’s the reason NASCAR runs the races. He led from the pole, scooted out to an early advantage and the fell from sight. He ran just outside the top 10 for most of the day and ended with an Average Running Position of 12.82. The good news is that he’s been solid on road courses with three wins, two more runner-up finishes, and eight top-10s in his last 10 races on the twisty tracks.

4. Ryan Blaney (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 8
Cup wins: 1 (Atlanta 1)
Power Average: 7.90
The best thing about Dover for Blaney might not be what did happen, but what didn’t. He ran with the leaders early and finished third at the end of Stage 1. Midway through Stage 2, he ran over debris from another driver’s accident and cut his tire, but kept the No. 12 Ford out of the wall, was able to pit on the ensuing caution, and remained in contention. His 12th-place finish wasn’t great by itself, but he could just as easily ended the Drydene 400 in the garage.

5. Kevin Harvick (last week: 7) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 12
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 8.00
Slowly but surely, Harvick is starting to look like the driver we’ve come to expect. For most of the Dover race, he was “best in class” with Hendrick being in a class of their own. He was passed by Joey Logano in the closing stages of the race, but the Team Penske driver had fresher tires. Don’t expect a lot from Harvick on the road course because he struggled at Daytona. He could challenge for the win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the World 600, the inaugural Nashville Superspeedway race, or in Pocono Raceway’s doubleheader.

6. Kyle Busch (last week: 5) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 13
Cup wins: 1 (Kansas 1)
Power Average: 8.69
Busch gets a “B” for effort at Dover. He lost his composure early in the race when the engine of the No. 18 lost power, but after dropping seven laps off the pace, the team repaired a plug wire and recorded lap times that were similar to the top 10. He did not lose another lap for the remainder of the race, but this is not a driver who responds well to frustration – and he is just now getting his rhythm with COVID-19 protocols that eliminated practice and qualification.

7. Chase Elliott (last week: 8) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Weeks as #1: 3
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 9.32
Elliott did not win last week at Dover, but he was solidly in the top three most of the afternoon. While we would like to have seen him find Victory Lane on an oval, his strong showing on the concrete high banks was nonetheless important because it will give him a good starting position on next week’s road course in Austin, Texas. Elliott was well on his way to a fifth consecutive road course win at Daytona earlier this year before he spun himself off the nose of Hamlin’s Toyota.

8. Tyler Reddick (last week: 9) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Cup wins: 1 0
Power Average: 10.629
Reddick not only held onto his position in the top 10 this week, he managed to move up a position as a mostly-disappointing day for the No. 22 allowed him to leapfrog the Penske pilot. With his eighth-place finish at Dover, Reddick has now finished between seventh and 12th in six of his last seven races. That type of consistency will give the team a great set of notes from which to work and Reddick should become a regular part of your top-10 betting strategy.

9. Kyle Larson (last week: 14) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Las Vegas 1)
Power Average: 10.632
Larson had the dominant car at Dover and might have been stronger than Truex in the closing laps at Darlington. Still, with the aero-dependency of NASCAR’s current car, he was unable to get around either leader in dirty air. With two runner-up finishes, he is beginning to look like the type of driver we saw at the beginning of the season before he finished outside the top 15 in four of five races from the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track through Kansas Speedway 1.

10. Joey Logano (last week: 6) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Weeks as #1: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Bristol dirt)
Power Average: 11.00
With a late-race surge, Logano narrowly avoided getting dropped from this week’s top 10. He was one of the last drivers to take tires at Dover and over a long run, he was able to climb into the top five and improve his Average Running Position and Driver Rating. To remain with the leaders, he is going to have to run well at COTA, but that is possible because he finished second to Christopher Bell on the Daytona road course.

Other drivers with wins, not among the top 10: Alex Bowman (2- Richmond 1 and Dover 1), Michael McDowell (Daytona 1), Christopher Bell (Daytona road), and Brad Keselowski (Talladega 1)

Dropped from the Top 10

14. Matt DiBenedetto (last week: 10) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 12.84
Dover was by far DiBenedetto’s worst performance in a long time. He finished 24th, five laps off the pace and was never in contention. His Average Running Position of 24.02 and a Driver Rating of 52.7 were both in the mid-20s range and that has taken him out of weekly consideration as a top-10 dark horse. The next several weeks will be a test of the desire of this driver and the strength of the team.

Big Movers Outside the top 10

15. Alex Bowman (last week: 16) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Cup wins: 1 (Richmond 1, Dover 1)
Power Average: 13.28
Bowman moved up only one position in the Power Rankings this week, but his victory at Dover was much more important than that modest improvement. With the chance of more than 16 unique winners still in the offing, Bowman needed his second win to make him only the second driver so far this season to secure a spot in the playoffs. He was probably not all that worried, but he can breathe easier now.

25. Ryan Newman (last week: 18) -7
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Power Average: 21.62
We expected a lot more from Newman at Dover. Maybe not that he would contend for a top-10 – although he has the skill, temperament, and stature to do so – but we certainly believed he would end the day in the teens at least. Instead, he finished 23rd with an Average Running Position of 23.69. Compounding his trouble was that the Bristol Dirt race aged out of the formula and that was the sight of his only top-five so far this season.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Drydene 400, Alex Bowman (+1800)
Goodyear 400, Martin Truex Jr. (+775)
Buschy McBusch 400, Kyle Busch (+1200)
Geico 500, Brad Keselowski (+1200)
Toyota Owners 400, Alex Bowman (+3300)
Blue-Emu 500, Martin Truex Jr. (+475)

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Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Denny Hamlin

5.71

2

1

2.

William Byron

6.20

3

1

3.

Martin Truex Jr.

7.00

1

-2

4.

Ryan Blaney

7.90

4

0

5.

Kevin Harvick

8.00

7

2

6.

Kyle Busch

8.69

5

-1

7.

Chase Elliott

9.32

8

1

8.

Tyler Reddick

10.629

9

1

9.

Kyle Larson

10.632

14

5

10.

Joey Logano

11.00

6

-4

11.

Brad Keselowski

11.06

11

0

12.

Christopher Bell

11.33

12

0

13.

Austin Dillon

12.68

13

0

14.

Matt DiBenedetto

12.84

10

-4

15.

Alex Bowman

13.28

16

1

16.

Chris Buescher

15.24

15

-1

17.

Ross Chastain

16.14

22

5

18.

Kaz Grala

17.60

19

1

19.

Bubba Wallace

18.30

20

1

20.

Kurt Busch

18.47

23

3

21.

Harrison Burton

19.83

24

3

22.

Daniel Suarez

20.43

17

-5

23.

Chase Briscoe

20.76

27

4

24.

Austin Cindric

21.20

28

4

25.

Ryan Newman

21.62

18

-7

26.

Michael McDowell

21.81

25

-1

27.

Cole Custer

21.86

30

3

28.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

22.03

21

-7

29.

Aric Almirola

23.00

31

2

30.

Erik Jones

23.48

26

-4

31.

Ryan Preece

24.00

29

-2

32.

Corey LaJoie

26.00

34

2

33.

Anthony Alfredo

26.59

33

0

34.

JJ Yeley

28.67

36

2

35.

Timmy Hill

31.40

38

3

36.

BJ McLeod

31.69

37

1

37.

Justin Haley

32.44

42

5

38.

James Davison

32.63

39

1

39.

Josh Berry

32.75

NA

40.

Quin Houff

33.03

41

1

41.

Garrett Smithley

33.07

40

-1

42.

Cody Ware

33.62

45

3

43.

Josh Bilicki

35.34

47

4

44.

Joey Gase

35.50

48

4

45.

Matt Mills

37.00

49

4

POWER RANKINGS AFTER DARLINGTON 1
DRIVER RATING: BRISTOL THROUGH DARLINGTON
GAUGING POWER THROUGH TOP-15 LAPS