Power Ranking after Daytona

Editor’s Note for Power Ranking Daytona:

Power Ranking for the NASCAR Cup Series is now available after each race by our newest Fan4Racing crew member, Owen Stewart.

NASCAR season is upon us again. And so, the Power Ranking begins.

With the completion of the Daytona 500, one of thirty-six races has been run in the quest for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Denny Hamlin got the season-opening victory, holding off a late run from both Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman to take his third 500 victory since 2016. Since the season is underway, it’s only right that we get the power rankings off and running as well. Daytona is a race that can prompt big swings in the rankings, and this year follows that trend.

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<strong>1. Denny Hamlin</strong> – Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11

LW: 5

Daytona 500 Finish: 1st

The biggest story at Daytona was the horrific Ryan Newman wreck, but as the news regarding Newman becomes more positive, there is reason to appreciate the amazing finish in which Hamlin picked up his second straight 500 and his third in the last five years. He had a great Speedweeks and as usual, a tremendous performance in the 500 to pick up a season-opening win. Hamlin’s quest for his first championship is off to the best possible start. 

<strong>2.</strong> <strong>Kevin Harvick </strong>- Stewart Haas Racing No. 4-

LW: 2

Daytona 500 Finish: Fifth

Harvick ran a clean race at Daytona, running near the back for the first two stages and then somehow avoiding every huge wreck in the final stage to finish in the top five. Good start for the 4 team, and he’ll be heading to a few tracks on the West Coast where he is likely to pick up at least one victory. 

<strong> 4. Ryan Blaney</strong> – Team Penske No. 12

LW: Six

Daytona 500 Finish: Second

Blaney was edged out for the win by Hamlin, but he still ran a great race in finishing second, despite neither of his teammates finishing. 2020 will be a huge year for Blaney, as he may be looking for a new team in the off-season, and this was a great beginning. 

<strong>5. Joey Logano </strong>- Team Penske No. 22

LW: Four

Daytona 500 Finish: 26th

Logano was able to sneak through a couple of huge wrecks before getting unfortunately caught up in the Ross Chastain-Ryan Preece incident with two laps to go. The 22 ran near the front for the majority of the race, and clearly had one of the better-pushing cars on the track. Las Vegas is one of his best tracks, and that happens to be this Sunday. 

<strong>6. Martin Truex Jr. </strong>- Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19

LW: Three

Daytona 500 Finish: 32nd

It wasn’t a fun week at Daytona for Truex, who spent the first stage riding in the back with his teammates, and then was forced out back again when he drove into a rogue gas can on pit road. To top it all off, he still got caught up in the ‘Big One’ and finished outside of the top-30. Hopefully, the West Coast swing is kind to the 19, because this wasn’t an ideal start.

<strong>7. Chase Elliott</strong> – Hendrick Motorsports No. 9

LW: Seven

Daytona 500 Finish 17th

Props to Chase for grinding out a top-20 finish after being involved in multiple late wrecks. More importantly, Elliott was able to pick up the win in Stage 1 to pick up that crucial playoff point, and his car looked to be running pretty well for the entirety of the race. The final result won’t show it, but it was a pretty good day. 

<strong>8. Brad Keselowski </strong>- Team Penske No. 2

LW: Nine

Daytona 500 Finish: 36th

Keselowski is another driver who won’t get nearly enough credit for what was a pretty well-run race. He was challenging for the lead when he was wrecked on lap 183. Unfortunately for the 2 car, he wasn’t able to pick up any stage points, so he only got eight total points out of the weekend, with seven coming from his Duel. He’ll need a change of luck in Vegas. 

<strong>9. Kyle Larson </strong>- Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42

LW: Eight

Daytona 500 Finish: Tenth

After having one of the more uneventful days of the drivers on the track, Larson was able to come home tenth and pick up a good number of points to open the season. For a guy who typically has terrible superspeedway luck, it was a positive change for Larson. He’ll be highlighting Auto Club, in two weeks, as a huge chance to win. 

<strong>10. Chris Buescher </strong>- Roush-Fenway Racing No. 17

LW: 17

Daytona 500 Finish: Third

Buescher was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the 500, running in the top-ten for the majority of the race and challenging for the lead down the stretch. He ended up coming home third, which is a great result for a driver in his first race with a new team. Buescher is seen by many as a fringe-playoff guy entering the year, so this is a good start to say the least. 

<strong>11. Aric Almirola</strong> – Stewart Haas Racing No. 10

LW: 13

Daytona 500 Finish: 22nd

It’s a shame that Almirola was collected in the first huge wreck on lap 183 because his strategy appeared to be working out perfectly. After finishing third in Stage 1, he hung out in the back with his teammates in Stage 2 and gradually made it through the field during Stage 3. He was challenging for the lead when he was collected by Brad Keselowski. However, it was still a good Speedweeks for the 10 team, who finished second in the Duel and got good stage points. 

<strong>12. Kurt Busch</strong> – Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1

LW: Ten

Daytona 500 Finish: 33rd

Kurt Busch’s string of terrible luck continued on from 2019 in the first race of 2020. He was caught in a massive wreck, like many others, with 17 laps remaining, ending his race with another back of the pack finish. It was an unfortunate break, but hopefully, nothing that is an indicator for the rest of the season. 

<strong>13. Alex Bowman</strong> – Hendrick Motorsports

LW: 12

Daytona 500 Finish: 24th

After running about mid-pack for the majority of the race, Bowman began to make a move towards the top ten before being collected in the huge wreck on lap 183, damaging his car and essentially ending his race. He was, however, able to pick up a second-place finish in Stage 1, and got his car to the finish line, which is more than some can say. 

<strong>14. Ryan Newman</strong> – Roush-Fenway Racing No. 6

  LW: 21

Daytona 500 Finish: Ninth

Newman’s gruesome crash at the end of the race will be the big headline, which is going to make a lot of people forget that he was leading off of turn four, not far from his second Daytona 500 victory. Newman won’t be racing at Las Vegas, but all indicators show that he will return soon. Roush-Fenway showed great speed at Daytona, and it will be intriguing to see if that continues at an intermediate track like Vegas.  

<strong>15. William Byron </strong>- Hendrick Motorsports No. 24

LW: 11

Daytona 500 Finish: 40th

Whether or not you think Byron was wrecked by Ricky Stenhouse or that he just put himself in a poor position by trying to block, it can be agreed that Byron’s 40th place finish was completely unexpected. A sneaky pick to win the race, Byron was running fourth prior to the accident and appeared to be a contender. The 21-year old will continue to search for his first career win at Las Vegas on Sunday. 

<strong>16. Erik Jones </strong>- Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20

LW: 15

Daytona 500 Finish: 18th

Jones was able to finish the race in the top 20, but damage taken in an incident with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. inhibited him for the remainder of the race. He wasn’t able to run with Hamlin or Kyle Busch at the front for the final stage and got stuck in the middle of the pack. Not a bad finish for the 20, but not what he was hoping for. 

<strong>17. Clint Bowyer</strong> – Stewart Haas Racing No. 14

LW: 19

Daytona 500 Finish: Sixth

Even while being involved in an incident on the first green-white-checkered attempt, Bowyer was able to push to a sixth-place finish to get the season underway. As one of the sport’s more overlooked drivers, the race was a good start to a big season for him in terms of contract talks with Stewart-Haas. 

<strong>18. Matt DiBenedetto</strong> – Wood Brothers Racing No. 21

LW: 16

Daytona 500 Finish: 19th

Fans who were looking for DiBenedetto to shock the world and bring the Wood Brothers another Daytona 500 victory were disappointed, but he proved that he will be a very competitive car in the 21, picking up a couple of stage points and running pretty well for the entirety of Speedweeks. It will be crucial to see how much speed he has at Las Vegas. 

<strong>19. Ryan Preece</strong> – JTG Daugherty No. 37

LW: 22

Daytona 500 Finish: 29th

More than almost anybody else, Preece’s finishing position doesn’t do him much justice. After an uneventful first two stages, the second-year driver had worked his way into the top five and briefly challenged for the lead before being taken out in a wreck with two laps to go. Stenhouse’s pole and the speed the team showed overall at Daytona opened a lot of room for optimism for JTG Daugherty as a whole. 

<strong>20. Jimmie Johnson</strong> – Hendrick Motorsports No. 48

LW: 18

Daytona 500 Finish: 35th

There was a glimmer of hope for Jimmie Johnson. He ran in the top ten for the majority of the race before getting absolutely demolished, like many others, on lap 183. While Johnson wasn’t able to pull off a victory in his last Daytona 500, it is obvious that he is racing with a true purpose this year. His next few races will be interesting to watch. 

Best of the Rest:

  • 21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 LW: 27
  • 22. Cole Custer – Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 LW: 14
  • 23. Corey LaJoie – GoFas Racing No. 32 LW: 24
  • 24. Christopher Bell – Leavine Family Racing No. 95 LW: 20
  • 25. Austin Dillon – Richard Childress Racing No. 3 LW: 25
  • 26. Bubba Wallace – Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 LW: 28
  • 27. Ross Chastain – Spire Motorsports No. 77 LW: 30
  • 28. Tyler Reddick – Richard Childress Racing No. 8 LW: 23
  • 29. Ty Dillon – Germain Racing No. 13 LW: 26
  • 30. John Hunter Nemechek – Front Row Motorsports No. 38 LW: NR
  • Dropped Out: Michael McDowell