Post Talladega Power Ranking

Post Talladega Power Ranking for the NASCAR Cup Series takes a look at the drivers as they head into a doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway.
TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – JUNE 22: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Sylvania Ford, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Dent Wizard Ford, and Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Post Talladega Power Ranking for the NASCAR Cup Series takes a look at the drivers as they head into a doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway.

The past few weeks have brought a very diverse group of race tracks. NASCAR went from Bristol, one of the shortest tracks in the sport, to Homestead, a 1.5-mile oval, to Talladega, the sport’s longest and fastest superspeedway. This Talladega race was a bit different from most. Not a ton of wrecks, but still suspense, as most cars were low on fuel coming down to the wire. It ended with another margin of victory smaller than one-hundredth of a second, with Ryan Blaney edging out Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola crossing the line backward in third place, as Erik Jones and John Hunter Nemechek get sandwiched into the wall. A crazy weekend led to some shake-ups in the power ranking leading into the Pocono double-header.

1. Kevin Harvick

Geico 500 Finish: 10th

LR: 1

Just as it looked like ‘The Closer’ might pull off yet another improbable superspeedway win, everything went awry. Harvick was the leader at the white flag, but was unable to block a huge run from Ryan Blaney and then got shuffled back a bit in the pack. Nonetheless, still another good finish for Harvick to keep him atop the standings.

2. Denny Hamlin

Geico 500 Finish: 4th

LR: 4

Hamlin may not have his fourth victory of the season at Talladega, but he ran up front for a good portion of the race and was able to finish fourth with cars sliding all over the place. With his result, Hamlin and Ryan Blaney are now the only drivers with seven top-five finishes this season. Still sitting sixth in the standings, Hamlin is one of the front-runners for the championship.

3. Chase Elliott

Geico 500 Finish: 38th

LR: 2

Talladega happened to Chase Elliott. He was running a solid race until he was spun with 55 laps remaining, hitting the wall and collecting Austin Dillon. It was yet another unfortunate, unlucky break for Elliott, who can’t seem to get enough of them this year. Even with the poor finish, Elliott still sits only 32 points back of Kevin Harvick at the top of the standings, and his six top-five finishes are more than anyone not named Denny Hamlin or Ryan Blaney. 

4. Brad Keselowski

Geico 500 Finish: 19th

LR: 3

Overall, Keselowski had a solid race at Talladega, as he and his Penske teammates were able to team up and lead the pack for a long while. However, once the rest of the field was able to split Keselowski from Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano, his car began to struggle a bit, and Keselowski finished in the middle of the pack. Keselowski’s average finish of 9.7 this season is the second-best in the series, behind only Kevin Harvick.

5. Joey Logano

Geico 500 Finish: 17th

LR: 7

Like his teammate, one spot above him, Logano was part of a Penske trio that rolled through lap after lap in the front of the field at Talladega but fell back toward the middle of the field down the home stretch. Logano’s stats are a bit misleading, as his six top-ten finishes are ahead of just Alex Bowman among the series’ top-ten drivers, but he sits second in the standings. There’s a good chance he can grab a win in two attempts at Pocono.

6. Ryan Blaney

Geico 500 Finish: 1st

LR: 10

Blaney’s incredible win felt like a long time coming. Blaney had plenty of chances early in the season to come away with a victory, and his Talladega victory was exhilarating. His last lap run to pass Kevin Harvick and hold off Ricky Stenhouse, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola, and others was a joy to watch. With all three Penske drivers in the top-five in the standings, Blaney has put himself firmly in the championship conversation.

7. Kyle Busch

Geico 500 Finish: 32nd

LR: 5

As has happened many times this season, just when it seems like Busch is about to break through, another race like Sunday happens. Busch’s last six races include three finishes of sixth or better and three finishes of 19th or worse. Inconsistency won’t allow Busch to climb much higher in the standings. Busch does have three wins in the last five races at Pocono, making him a favorite this weekend.

8. Alex Bowman

Geico 500 Finish: 7th

LR: 8

Bowman stays stagnant here because it felt like he came out of nowhere to finish in the top-ten. He didn’t spend a ton of time near the front on Sunday, but when push came to shove, Bowman was on screen with the leaders as they pushed toward the checkered. Bowman still has just four top-ten finishes but was able to make up some ground on the guys immediately behind him in points. 

9. Martin Truex Jr.

Geico 500 Finish: 23rd

LR: 6

Joe Gibbs Racing has been plagued with inconsistencies this year, as mentioned with Truex’s buddy Kyle Busch two spots above. Truex won two weeks ago at Martinsville but has followed it up with two straight finishes outside of the top-ten. He has now finished 20th or worse five times this season, almost as many times as he’s finished inside of the top-ten. He dropped another spot in the standings as well, to seventh.

10. Kurt Busch

Geico 500 Finish: 9th

LR: 9

It probably doesn’t seem like it, as Busch is flying under the radar this year, but Busch’s nine top-ten finishes are matched for second-most in the series with Brad Keselowski and behind just Kevin Harvick. All it’s going to take for Busch to put himself into this year’s top tier of drivers is to win a race and run up front a little more often. Some more stage points will help as well, with Busch continuing to finish near the front of the pack and staying consistent with his driving.

11. Tyler Reddick

Geico 500 Finish: 20th

LR: 11

The race may not have worked out in the end for Tyler Reddick, but his performance in the early part of the race was extremely impressive, as he has been for most of the season. Reddick even grabbed his first-ever stage win as the caution came out for rain. Those stage points are huge for Reddick, as he sneaks himself into the top-16 by one point over Erik Jones. Halfway through the regular season, Reddick has put himself into a much better position than expected as a rookie.

12. Aric Almirola

Geico 500 Finish: 3rd

LR: 14

For the first time in Almirola’s career, he finished in the top-five for a second consecutive race. Weird stat for sure, but an even weirder one relates to Almirola’s success at Talladega. With his backward-sliding third-place finish on Sunday, he has now finished in the top-ten in eight straight races at the track. Considering the impact that luck and avoiding the ‘Big One’ plays at Talladega, that is incredibly impressive. The race could be a big momentum swing for the No. 10. 

13. Jimmie Johnson

Geico 500 Finish: 13th

LR: 12

Johnson’s tangle with Kevin Harvick coming down the back straightaway in the closing laps changed the course of the entire race. This is so, especially for Johnson, who had a big run to close in on the leader. Despite having a lot of ground to make up, Johnson was able to, at least, work himself back into the top-15 and hold his ground in 11th place. 

14. Clint Bowyer

Geico 500 Finish: 25th

LR: 13

As one of the cars caught up in the last lap wreck, Bowyer lost a few positions and gave up his crucial 12th place spot in the standings, as his teammate Aric Almirola passed him over. Bowyer’s string of poor finishes is beginning to take a toll on his point total, and with only three top-ten finishes so far, there needs to be a bit more consistency for him to make any type of playoff run.

15. William Byron

Geico 500 Finish: 11th

LR: 17

After an underwhelming start to the season, Byron has begun to make a bit of headway up the standings, with three straight finishes of 11th or better. In the past five races, Byron has climbed from 18th to 14th, and is now in a much better position to not only make the postseason, but give himself a chance to make a run through a round or two. 

16. John Hunter Nemechek

Geico 500 Finish: 8th

LR: 19

Nemechek came out of nowhere to nearly shove Erik Jones to the win through the tri-oval, but also nearly won the race himself. If there was a little extra room on the outside of Jones before race winner Ryan Blaney moved up into him and caused both cars to get into the wall, Nemechek very well may have been the one to get to the checkered flag first. Even so, a top-ten finish for Nemechek was another big step in the right direction.

17. Matt DiBenedetto

Geico 500 Finish: 26th

LR: 15

It may still be relatively early in the season, but DiBenedetto is slowly beginning to run out of chances to turn his season around and keep himself in the playoff mix. DiBenedetto has just one top ten finish in his last seven races and has finished 25th or worse three times in that span. Talladega isn’t always the best track to bust a slump, but we’ve seen the 21 team make a splash at Pocono before. 

18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Geico 500 Finish: 2nd

LR: 26

It’s not a secret that Stenhouse circles Talladega on the schedule every single year, and the race almost played right into his hands. Coming right through the tri-oval to the checkered flag, Stenhouse had a great chance to win the race, and was .007 seconds away from claiming a crucial victory that would have locked his spot in the playoffs. Stenhouse’s three top five finishes are more than Martin Truex, Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, William Byron, and others, but he only has one additional lead lap finish. A few more may allow Stenhouse to trim the gap to the playoffs.

19. Bubba Wallace

Geico 500 Finish: 14th

LR: 20

Wallace, to say the least, had an emotional weekend at Talladega. Regardless of the end result of the garage situation, Wallace briefly taking the lead in Richard Petty’s 43 car was a sight to behold. His 14th place finishing position may not have lived up to the lofty expectations, but it still was a solid result for a team that has shown tremendous growth this season. 

20. Erik Jones

Geico 500 Finish: 5th

LR: 21

Erik Jones can’t be too happy about barely missing out on a victory at Talladega, but his top five finish was still a nice result after three straight finishes of 20th or worse. That being said, it’s hard not to imagine what would have happened if John Hunter Nemechek hadn’t peeked to his outside coming through the tri-oval. Blaney’s bump may not have wrecked Jones, and he may have even been able to hold on for a win. Ah, so is Talladega. 

BEST OF THE REST

21. Austin Dillon (LR: 16)

22. Chris Buescher (LR: 23)

23. Ryan Newman (LR: 18)

24. Christopher Bell (LR: 22)

25. Michael McDowell (LR: 24)

26. Ryan Preece (LR: 29)

27. Cole Custer (LR: 27)

28. Corey LaJoie (LR: 28)

29. Matt Kenseth (LR: 25)

30. Ty Dillon (LR: 30)

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