Power Ranking After: Dover 2

Dan Beaver
Rotoworld

The Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway last week was catastrophic for a couple of playoff contenders, but since racing is a zero sum game, several drivers were able to capitalize on their misfortune.

As the season has progressed, two streaks have been noted over and over. Kyle Larson was able to snap his 75-race winless streak and lock into Round 2 of the playoffs. Jimmie Johnson’s winless streak stretched to 89 races, but he was able to score a third consecutive top-10 for the first time in three years and reappeared on the chart for the second time this season. Johnson was ranked eighth following the Coke Zero 400.

Meanwhile, after spending the first 28 weeks in the Fantasy Power Rankings top 10, Kyle Busch missed the cut for a second consecutive week as his current winless streak extends to 16 races. Normally that would go unnoticed, but Busch responds so intensely to even the slightest failure that he calls attention to the deficit.

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The last time Busch went this long without a win, it stretched 36 races between the 2016 Brickyard 400 and the 2017 July race at Pocono.

1. Kevin Harvick (last week: 1)
Playoff Rank: 5
Weeks in the top 10: 30
FPR#: 3.88

With his fourth-place finish last week at Dover, coupled with the fact that Bristol Motor Speedway aged out of the last 45-day Fantasy Power Rankings formula, Harvick has solidified his place at the top of the chart. The only time he has stumbled since late July when he won at New Hampshire was because of a clutch problem in the Night Race at Bristol.

2. Kyle Larson (last week: 3) +1
Playoff Rank: 1
Weeks in the top 10: 16
FPR#: 7.73

If a driver is going to win during the playoffs, the week before Talladega is a good time to do so. Larson is literally the only playoff contender who can rest easy after snapping a 75-race winless streak in commanding fashion at Dover. In the past 45 days an accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the only time he’s finished outside the top 15. Larson has made his way to the top of the chart on consistency.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 7) +4
Playoff Rank: 2
Weeks in the top 10: 27
FPR#: 9.05

Truex had the measure of Larson last week, but a problem in the pits robbed him of track position to start the final. With no cautions to bunch the field, Truex still was able to close on the No. 42, but heavy traffic kept him from being able to pounce. Still Truex has been almost perfect in the playoffs with two wins, a second-place finish, and a seventh. If he keeps up this pace for the next week or two, he will probably top our Power Ranking chart.

4. Clint Bowyer (last week: 6) +3
Playoff Rank: 2
Weeks in the top 10: 27
FPR#: 9.05

Bowyer is a streaky driver. That’s good news when he is riding momentum like he currently experiences. Since finishing seventh at Bristol and ending the regular season with three consecutive top-10s, he has stumbled just once with a 25th at Vegas.

5. Brad Keselowski (last week: 4) -1
Playoff Rank: 6
Weeks in the top 10: 24
FPR#: 9.71

Keselowski began the playoffs with three straight top-fives, but he was not happy with his performance. The reason for that is because he was surging at the end of races and not running consistently strong at the start. Last week he couldn't even surge at the end and as his tires heated up, he fell to 13th in the final rundown. Considering the problems experienced by his teammates, however, Keselowski is probably content this week.

6. Denny Hamlin (last week: 9) -3
Playoff Rank: 3
Weeks in the top 10: 23
FPR#: 10.31

Since an accident at Darlington Raceway snapped a six-race streak of top-fives, Hamlin just hasn’t been the same. In his last six races, he has failed to back up one top-10 with another. Last week’s fifth-place finish at Dover was nice because it showed a reversal of fortune on that track, but next week’s wild card race at Talladega Superspeedway could rob him of momentum.

7. William Byron (last week: 10) +3
Playoff Rank: 8
Weeks in the top 10: 15
FPR#: 10.68

Last week Byron failed to capitalize on the problems experienced by Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, but he needs to be measured against his own potential. Fantasy owners should not lose sight of the fact that Byron is still in only his second full season and as a sophomore he has avoided the slump that is often associated with that designation. Slowly but surely, we are all beginning to see what Rick Hendrick saw all along.

8. Ryan Blaney (last week: 5) -3
Playoff Rank: 12
Weeks in the top 10: 22
FPR#: 11.14

It is surprising how one mistake can compound. Running fifth with a lap to go at Michigan International Speedway, Blaney was forced to pit as the entire Team Penske strategy imploded. He finished 24th in that race and has struggled to reemerge. The closest Blaney has come to reestablishing momentum was when he finished seventh at Indy and fifth the next week at Vegas.

9. Jimmie Johnson (last week: 15) +6
Playoff Rank: NA
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 11.65

Before his eighth-place finish last week, the last time Johnson scored three consecutive top-10s was in 2016. He was in the playoffs at the time and had just won the opening race of Round 2. His next effort landed fourth… and then came Talladega. He finished outside the top 20 in the Hellmann's 500 and has not been consistent since. In his last 107 races, he has earned 11 top-fives; five of these were victories. Now that he has established himself among the top 10 again, he could continue to climb the chart.

10. Chase Elliott (last week: 2) -8
Playoff Rank: 11
Weeks in the top 10: 20
FPR#: 12.00

The Fantasy Power Rankings looks at strength-based stats during the past 45 days. Exiting the race before Lap 10 last week was devastating to Elliott’s numbers because it kept him from amassing a decent Average Running Position, Driver Rating, or many laps in the top 15. The only thing that kept him from falling out of the top 10 after being second last week was that Logano had his own set of problems.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Joey Logano (last week: 8) -3
Playoff Rank: 9
Weeks in the top 10: 28
FPR#: 12.46
Logano took a lot of heat last week from the leaders for racing them hard. There is a gentleman’s agreement that drivers who are multiple laps down should pull over and let those battling for the win have the track. But Logano proved last year at Martinsville Speedway that gentleman’s agreements pale in the harsh light of continuing in the playoffs. Logano didn’t know what might happen to the handful of drivers ahead of him. He finished only 10 laps behind the driver in 28th (Logano was running 34th). Logano ultimately lost only two more laps after reentering the race with repairs and he wanted every point he could get.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kevin Harvick

3.88

1

0

2.

Kyle Larson

7.73

3

1

3.

Martin Truex Jr.

9.05

7

4

4.

Clint Bowyer

9.50

6

2

5.

Brad Keselowski

9.71

4

-1

6.

Denny Hamlin

10.31

9

3

7.

William Byron

10.68

10

3

8.

Ryan Blaney

11.14

5

-3

9.

Jimmie Johnson

11.65

15

6

10.

Chase Elliott

12.00

2

-8

 

11.

Joey Logano

12.46

8

-3

12.

Kyle Busch

12.68

11

-1

13.

Alex Bowman

13.49

18

5

14.

Aric Almirola

13.53

16

2

15.

Daniel Suarez

13.97

12

-3

16.

Matt DiBenedetto

14.41

13

-3

17.

Kurt Busch

15.32

17

0

18.

Ryan Newman

16.12

14

-4

19.

Paul Menard

16.25

19

0

20.

Austin Dillon

17.47

22

2

21.

Bubba Wallace

20.35

20

-1

22.

Chris Buescher

20.63

21

-1

23.

Ty Dillon

21.10

24

1

24.

Erik Jones

21.21

23

-1

25.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

23.06

25

0

26.

Michael McDowell

23.44

27

1

27.

Ryan Preece

24.42

28

1

28.

Daniel Hemric

25.71

26

-2

29.

David Ragan

26.10

29

0

30.

Matt Tifft

26.26

30

0

31.

Parker Kligerman

28.20

31

0

32.

Ryan Sieg

28.80

32

0

33.

Landon Cassill

29.77

35

2

34.

Corey LaJoie

30.06

34

0

35.

Ross Chastain

30.32

33

-2

36.

Timmy Hill

31.17

36

0

37.

JJ Yeley

32.97

37

0

38.

BJ McLeod

33.35

40

2

39.

Austin Theriault

33.40

38

-1

40.

Joe Nemechek

33.50

42

2

41.

Reed Sorenson

33.87

39

-2

42.

Joey Gase

34.09

41

-1

43.

Garrett Smithley

35.12

46

3

44.

Spencer Boyd

35.20

45

1

45.

Josh Bilicki

35.80

47

2

46.

Quin Houff

36.00

43

-3

 

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