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Ryan Blaney leads NASCAR Power Rankings after Atlanta

Ryan Blaney takes the top spot in the NASCAR Power Rankings after finishing second at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

There are two newcomers to the list this week, showing the unpredictable nature of superspeedway races.

NBC SPORTS NASCAR POWER RANKINGS

1. Ryan Blaney (Last week: 7) — One week after winning a stage at Daytona, Blaney was in contention once again. He led 31 laps at Atlanta, scored a race-high 17 stage points and finished second after the third-closest finish since the 1993 NASCAR season.

AUTO: FEB 25 NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400
AUTO: FEB 25 NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400

NASCAR explains why no caution for incident between Michael McDowell, William Byron

Michael McDowell and William Byron made contact on the pit lane in Turn 3 during last weekend’s Atlanta race.

2. William Byron (1) — Byron jumped to the top of the NASCAR Power Rankings after winning the Daytona 500 but lost a spot after a 17th-place finish at Atlanta. Byron had speed but was involved in a Lap 135 incident when Michael McDowell spun into him as they headed to pit road.

3. Bubba Wallace (10) — Wallace had speed at Atlanta, which he used to run inside the top 10 in the opening stage. He received a speeding penalty in the second stage and remained a lap down until getting the free pass on Lap 201. Wallace was able to work his way up to fifth in the race’s closing laps. He is the only driver to post top-10 finishes in both races this season.

4. Ross Chastain (9) — Like Wallace, Chastain has been strong in both races to start the season. He scored seven stage points in the Daytona 500 before crashing while going for the lead on the final lap. He scored another eight stage points at Atlanta before finishing seventh.

5. Daniel Suarez (NR) — The winner at Atlanta, Suarez has been fast in both races this season. He was in the top 10 in all three stages at Daytona before getting collected in a 23-car crash with nine laps to go. Sunday at Atlanta, Suarez led nine laps, scored seven more stage points and celebrated his first win since Sonoma in 2022. He now joins Byron in the playoffs.

AUTO: FEB 25 NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400
AUTO: FEB 25 NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400

Long: Atlanta finish left even those who lost smiling after chaotic, exciting race

Ryan Blaney lost to Daniel Suarez by inches but still expressed excitement for the finish.

6. Kyle Busch (NR) — The two-time Cup champion has yet to reach victory lane this season but he has the points lead after two races. Busch finished 12th at Daytona after scoring 12 stage points and then he finished third at Atlanta by only seven-thousandths of a second after leading 28 laps and scoring six stage points.

7. Kyle Larson (5) — Larson has only finished one of the five Atlanta races since the reconfiguration. He didn’t finish last weekend’s race but scored 16 stage points and led 17 laps. This followed the Daytona 500 where Larson finished 11th, his best finish at Daytona since 2021. Larson is now 11th in points heading to Las Vegas, a track where he has two wins and two runner-up finishes since 2021.

8. Chase Elliott (4) — Elliott kicked off his season with a stage win at Daytona and a 14th-place finish. He finished 15th at Atlanta after a race in which he was involved in three different on-track incidents. Elliott sits sixth in points after two races.

9. Denny Hamlin (8) — Hamlin had a busy afternoon at Atlanta. He was collected in multi-car incidents in every stage, the last of which destroyed the right front fender of his No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin still ran up front and led 15 laps after the early incidents while continuing to show speed.

10. Alex Bowman (3) — Atlanta was a lost race for Bowman from the start of the second lap. He was caught up in the 16-car incident and fell five laps down as the team made repairs to the rear of the No. 48 Chevrolet. Bowman finished 27th one week after finishing second in the Daytona 500.

Dropped out: Christopher Bell, Joey Logano