The post New Hampshire Power Ranking for the NASCAR Cup Series is here with just six races left in the 2020 regular season before the ten-race playoff season begins.
As crazy as it may seem, NASCAR’s ‘silly season’ has essentially already begun. After racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and with 16 races remaining, there were several big developments this week.
Among them, Team Penske locked up New Hampshire race winner Brad Keselowski for 2021 and possibly beyond, dispelling the notion that he’d take over the No. 48 after Jimmie Johnson’s retirement.
Then, Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine announced that he had sold the team’s charter and that LFR’s Cup Series career will end after this season.
Finally, the big bombshell is that Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Erik Jones will not return to their No. 20 car at the end of the year and will be replaced by Christopher Bell.
Wow. A crazy week in racing for sure, but the top of the NASCAR Cup Series power ranking stays pretty stagnant.
1. Denny Hamlin
Foxwoods 301 Result: 2nd
Hamlin was oh-so-close to extending his series lead in wins at New Hampshire, as he came second while chasing his sixth win of the season. All of a sudden, Hamlin has gained the consistency necessary to keep up with Kevin Harvick and the rest of the top contenders. Even without the victory, Hamlin is very clearly the best driver in the series at the moment.
2. Kevin Harvick
Foxwoods 301 Result: 5th
After another nice run at New Hampshire, Harvick’s point standings lead shrunk due to Brad Keselowski coming away with the victory. Nevertheless, he still has a relatively large cushion with six races to go in the regular season and added on to his series-best in top-five finishes by grabbing his 13th. Not much to complain about for Harvick and his team.
3. Brad Keselowski
Foxwoods 301 Result: 1st
Following a bit of a long drought, Keselowski broke through at New Hampshire for his third win of the season. Though his performance this year has somewhat fallen under the radar, he’s just the third driver (Hamlin and Harvick) with three wins and has been just as consistent as either one of them recently. Keselowski still trails Harvick by 81 points at the top of the standings, but with how he ran at New Hampshire, the deficit may not be too much to overcome.
4. Joey Logano
Foxwoods 301 Result: 4th
Logano had himself a good day in New Hampshire, picking up his fifth top-five finish of the season and grabbing some much-needed points following his shortened day at Kansas. With the drivers from second to seventh place all bunched up in the standings, every point will be crucial when it comes to playoff points at the end of the year.
5. Aric Almirola
Foxwoods 301 Result: 7th
That’s now nine consecutive top-ten finishes for Almirola following his seventh-place result at New Hampshire. Every week, there are periods where it looks like Almirola has the best car on the track. He still hasn’t grabbed a win quite yet, but he’s going to have two chances this weekend at Michigan. Almirola’s consistency has kept him inside the top half of the playoff field, with the biggest cushion of any driver without a victory.
6. Martin Truex Jr.
Foxwoods 301 Result: 3rd
Following his atypically slow start to the season, Truex has begun to heat up recently, with three top-three finishes in his past four races. It’s beginning to feel like MTJ is starting to figure some things out, and his timing is perfect, with the regular season beginning to wind down. He should be one of the favorites to pick up a victory (or maybe two) at Michigan this weekend.
7. Chase Elliott
Foxwoods 301 Result: 9th
Elliott was able to break a string of four straight finishes outside of the top-ten and was able to lead a few laps on his way to a ninth-place finish. Even so, it never quite felt like that No. 9 car was a true contender to win the race, and as the season continues without another win from Elliott, the missed opportunities and bad luck he endured early in the year weigh even harder.
8. Ryan Blaney
Foxwoods 301 Result: 20th
Throughout the early stages of the race, Blaney looked as though he was going to battle with Keselowski and Hamlin for the win. As has happened many times this year, it didn’t work out for Blaney, and he ended up settling for a mid-pack finish. He lost the third spot in the standings to Hamlin as a result and will hope for a pair of good runs at Michigan.
9. Tyler Reddick
Foxwoods 301 Result: 10th
In 20 races this year, Tyler Reddick has taken the No. 8 car to seven top-ten finishes. Coming into the season, the expectations for the rookie and his team were considerably below what he’s been able to do. Four top-tens in the last five races have allowed Reddick to bring himself within striking distance of the final playoff spot.
10. Kurt Busch
Foxwoods 301 Result: 17th
New Hampshire wasn’t too kind to the elder Busch, as he had handling issues with his car from the very beginning of the race. Considering how poorly his car ran for the majority of the laps, a 17th place finish is far from the worst possible result. The race broke a streak for Busch of five straight finishes of 13th or better, but he still has bragging rights over his brother.
11. Kyle Busch
Foxwoods 301 Result: 38th
The race couldn’t have gone much worse for Kyle Busch at New Hampshire, as his nightmare 2020 season continues. Busch has finished on the lead lap in just 13 of his 20 races so far and has an average finish worse than 15th on the season following his DNF. What’s almost more concerning is how even when he hasn’t had terrible luck, the car hasn’t been great. He’s led just 202 laps on the year (about ten per race), and still, obviously, does not have a win.
12. Matt DiBenedetto
Foxwoods 301 Result: 6th
DiBenedetto had a great rebound after his early wreck at Kansas, finishing in the top-ten and running a pretty solid race overall. He may not have led laps or contended for the victory, but DiBenedetto ran near the front of the pack for the majority of the race and picked up some crucial points. His playoff cushion sits at 40 points as of now, but one driver behind him picking up a win would change everything, so every point is big.
13. Clint Bowyer
Foxwoods 301 Result: 18th
Bowyer has begun to slide closer and closer toward the playoff cut line with each passing race. His 18th-place finish at New Hampshire certainly didn’t help the case, and Matt DiBenedetto is now breathing down his neck for the final spot in the top-12, which is of course crucial for track position.
14. Alex Bowman
Foxwoods 301 Result: 15th
A troubling trend is continuing on Sunday for Alex Bowman, as he hasn’t finished in the top-ten in consecutive races once all season. Following an eighth-place run at Kansas, Bowman had a chance to end that streak at New Hampshire, but had another mediocre day and finished mid-pack. Hendrick Motorsports as a whole is struggling to finish in the top-ten right now, but Bowman will need to get back on track if he wants to make a playoff run.
15. William Byron
Foxwoods 301 Result: 11th
Byron put together a solid weekend in New Hampshire, finishing just outside the top-ten and grabbing some much-needed points. Arguably no one is more on edge points-wise than Byron, who currently sits as the last driver inside the cut line. It’s going to be difficult to hold off a charging Tyler Reddick and a hungry Jimmie Johnson, but as of now, Byron still has a slight edge.
16. Austin Dillon
Foxwoods 301 Result: 13th
Due to his win at Texas, Dillon can rest easy knowing that he has clinched a playoff spot, but with just one finish outside of the top-20 since Talladega, he’s gradually seen his RCR car turn into a consistent performer. Dillon isn’t going to be a weekly contender to win by any means, but seeing him in the top-15 or top-ten is no longer a surprise.
17. Cole Custer
Foxwoods 301 Result: 8th
A switch must have flipped in Cole Custer’s brain before heading to Indianapolis. Here are the drastic splits in his stats, with Indianapolis being the first race in the second segment.
First 15 races: 0 wins, 0 top-fives, 1 top-ten, 8 lead lap finishes, 26th in points
Last five races: 1 win, 2 top-fives, 4 top-tens, 4 lead lap finishes, 19th in points
Another good race at NHMS for Custer and his No. 41 team, an encouraging sign as they appear to be building momentum with the playoffs on the horizon.
18. Jimmie Johnson
Foxwoods 301 Result: 12th
Johnson was able to recover from some early contact with Clint Bowyer to finish inside the top-15 on Sunday, an okay result, but not one that will help him bridge the current gap sitting between him and the playoffs. Hendrick’s struggles are coming at the wrong time for Johnson, who hasn’t finished inside the top-ten since Martinsville. He’ll need multiple points to go his way over the next six races.
19. Christopher Bell
Foxwoods 301 Result: 28th
Christopher Bell has had an interesting last few days. First, he finished outside the top-20 for the third consecutive race at New Hampshire. He is 129 points off of the cut line and has virtually zero chance at the playoffs without a victory. Then, it was announced that Leavine Family Racing, who Bell drives for, has been sold, and will cease operations at the end of the year. Finally, on a more positive note, Bell is highly speculated as Erik Jones’ replacement in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 car starting in 2021. Tumultuous, but it will likely work out for Bell in the end.
20. Erik Jones
Foxwoods 301 Result: 24th
As if this season hasn’t already been tough for Jones, it just got a lot tougher. After another poor finish that leaves him 31 points behind the cut line, it was announced that Jones will lose his ride at the end of the season. These next 16 races will essentially be a showcase of Jones’ skills for other teams as he searches for a new ride.
BEST OF THE REST
21. Michael McDowell (23)
22. Bubba Wallace (24)
23. John Hunter Nemechek (21)
24. Matt Kenseth (22)
25. Ty Dillon (25)
26. Ryan Newman (27)
27. Chris Buescher (26)
28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (30)
29. Daniel Suarez (28)
30. Ryan Preece (NR)