Pre-Kansas NASCAR Cup Power Ranking

Pre-Kansas NASCAR Cup Series Power Ranking looks at the results from Talladega Superspeedway to analyze how drivers rate going into the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Pre-Kansas NASCAR Cup Series Power Ranking looks at the results from Talladega Superspeedway to analyze how drivers rate going into the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

1. Denny Hamlin 

Geico 500 Result: 32nd 

Talladega wasn’t a great race for Hamlin, as he was caught speeding on pit road twice and was involved in an incident on-track while trying to get his lap back. Though the result was obviously disappointing for Hamlin, who is miraculously still winless through ten races, he still has a nearly 100 point gap between him and second-place Martin Truex Jr in the point standings. At some point, Hamlin will break through for that win, and one poor result isn’t enough to take him away from the top spot.  

2. Martin Truex Jr. 

Geico 500 Result: 31st 

Like his teammate Hamlin, Truex had himself an unfortunate day at Talladega. After running near the front for most of the race, MTJ lost a tire in the closing laps and ended up falling off of the lead lap. Not only did Truex finish outside of the top-30, but he was unable to capitalize on a poor day by Hamlin, with Truex actually losing ground to the points leader.  

3. William Byron 

Geico 500 Result: 2nd 

Even sliding through the grass, during the wreck after the second stage, Byron was able to put himself in a position to get win number two of the season. While he wasn’t able to pull off the pass around Brad Keselowski on the final lap, Byron did pick up his third top-five of the season and is now tied for the series lead with eight top-tens. 2021 is a make-or-break year for Byron, and so far he’s making it count.  

4. Brad Keselowski 

Geico 500 Result: 1st 

After nearly pulling off the win in the first superspeedway race of the year before the fiery wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500, Keselowski grabbed his first checkered flag of the season at Talladega. Coming from third on the final restart, Keselowski was able to get himself to the front and hold off William Byron and Michael McDowell to secure the victory. Now sixth in points, the win stopped a bit of a slide that saw Keselowski drop briefly all the way to ninth.  

5. Joey Logano 

Geico 500 Result: 39th 

Logano was running in the top five as the first stage was winding down but ended up on his roof and out of the race just seconds later. Though it was obvious that Logano got out of the car uninjured, it was an unfortunate result for a guy who tends to see lots of success at superspeedways. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Logano return to victory lane at Kansas, even while having to start near the back. 

6. Kyle Larson 

Geico 500 Result: 40th 

The only driver who had a worse day than Logano was none other than Kyle Larson. Larson completed just three laps before retiring from the race due to an issue under the hood. After consistently running inside the top-five and picking up a win early in the season, Larson finds himself in the midst of a nosedive in the standings, as he has fallen all the way to ninth.  

7. Ryan Blaney 

Geico 500 Result: 9th 

After winning the fall 2019 race and the spring 2020 race at Talladega, Blaney was one of the favorites to win this race as well. He’s always in the mix at the end anytime the series visits a superspeedway. Sunday was no different. Though Blaney finished in the back half of the top ten, it was enough to keep him in the top-five of the point standings through ten races. It appears as if the No. 12 car is taking a step forward this year.  

8. Kevin Harvick 

Geico 500 Result: 4th 

The theme of the 2021 season for Harvick continued at Talladega. He ran fairly well and kept the car clean, coming home with a slightly better result than expected. Given the step back that SHR has taken this year, it was refreshing to see Harvick come home with his third top-five of the season. Kansas will be a legitimate opportunity for the No. 4 to start near the front and pick up another great finish.  

9. Chase Elliott 

Geico 500 Result: 24th 

It’s been a somewhat ‘meh’ first ten races of 2021 for Elliott, who finished outside of the top-20 at Talladega and sits eighth in points. The defending champion has just four top-ten finishes and has led just 76 laps, both relatively low numbers, especially compared to teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson. That being said, it’s hard to see Elliott as the only Hendrick driver without a win for much longer.  

10. Kyle Busch 

Geico 500 Result: 18th 

The final result doesn’t quite describe Busch’s race at Talladega, as he was near the front for the majority of it. Unfortunately, he was unable to find his way back to the front when it really mattered and he had to settle for a mediocre finishing result. On the plus side for Busch, he is continuing to keep himself out of issues this year, completing all but three possible laps.  

11. Austin Dillon 

Geico 500 Result: 8th 

Dillon quietly put together another top-ten finish at Talladega, and his 2021 season continues to go pretty smoothly. After rmissing the playoffs in 2019 and shocking the series with a win at Texas to return to the postseason in 2020, this year is an important one in terms of determining Dillon’s true potential. So far, all is good for him, sitting 12th in points with four top-ten finishes, well ahead of teammate Tyler Reddick.  

12. Alex Bowman 

Geico 500 Result: 38th 

After his win at Richmond, Bowman got caught up in an accident late in the second stage at Talladega. While it initially appeared that Bowman would keep his No. 48 on track, he eventually retreated to the garage and ended his day in 38th. Though Bowman’s Richmond victory was certainly huge, he is now the lowest-ranked driver who possesses a win, which could be significant at the season’s end.  

13. Christopher Bell 

Geico 500 Result: 17th 

Like his other three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Bell ran well for most of the day but was unable to capitalize for more than a top-20 finish. In the grand scheme though, the finish didn’t mean too much. Bell continues to hold steady in the tenth spot of the standings, where he has been for the past month. If not for a rough two-race stretch at Atlanta and Bristol, Bell would be right up there with the contenders.  

14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

Geico 500 Result: 33rd 

Though Stenhouse wasn’t able to pick up his typical solid result at Talladega, he is still in a much better position than expected coming into the season. Through ten races, Stenhouse has finished outside of the top-20 just once – this weekend – and is still inside the top-16 in points even without a win. Stenhouse will eventually need a win to squeak into the playoffs. His consistent results in the No. 47 are encouraging.  

15. Matt DiBenedetto 

Geico 500 Result: 5th 

Once again it appeared as if DiBenedetto might finally get that elusive first win. Unfortunately, just as at Bristol in 2019 and Talladega last year, it slipped out of his fingertips in the closing laps. Even so, DiBenedetto has bounced nearly all the way back from a dreadful start that had him 30th in points through four races. With his top-five at Talladega, DiBenedetto is now 17th, and just 12 points behind Chris Buescher in the final transfer spot.  

16. Kurt Busch 

Geico 500 Result: 35th 

Busch was lucky to even finish the race at Talladega after his car essentially caught on fire while sitting on pit road. Unfortunately for him, the race was relatively tame. So, there were not enough cars bowing out for Busch to salvage better than 35th. Currently below the playoff cutline, and approaching the halfway point in the regular season, Busch badly needs to string together some good races.  

17. Chris Buescher 

Geico 500 Result: 21st 

Buescher was a popular sleeper pick to take a win at Talladega, as he always seems to be in contention on superspeedways. While he did spend some time near the front early in the race, Buescher ended up finishing just outside of the top-20. He merely was able to maintain his position in 16th of the standings. Nevertheless, Buescher’s season has been impressive to this point.  

18. Aric Almirola 

Geico 500 Result: 15th 

At a track he tends to perform very well at, Almirola likely hoped for more than just a 15th place finish. Although he was dealing with a vibration in his car for much of the day, Almirola was at least able to lead some laps. The tide may be starting to turn for Almirola after an absolutely dismal start to the year. He has finished with three straight top-20 finishes and has climbed two spots in the standings in the past couple of weeks.  

19. Michael McDowell 

Geico 500 Result: 3rd 

Going into the final straightaway on Sunday, it looked like a real possibility that McDowell could sweep the first two superspeedway races of the season. While he ended up settling for third, the result was still huge for a team that had been slumping badly in the weeks prior. McDowell is actually now ahead of Alex Bowman in the standings, and after picking up his fourth top-ten of the year, picked up four spots.  

20. Tyler Reddick 

Geico 500 Result: 7th 

Reddick’s aggressive move to pull out of line on the last lap likely cost him a legitimate chance at a win, but it was also likely the right move given the circumstances. The top-ten finish was a nice result for a team that has dealt with its share of bad luck this season. Reddick’s four top-ten finishes are even with Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Austin Dillon, yet he sits 22nd in points. 

BEST OF THE REST 

21. Bubba Wallace 

22. Ryan Newman 

23. Cole Custer 

24. Daniel Suarez 

25. Ross Chastain 

26. Ryan Preece 

27. Erik Jones 

28. Anthony Alfredo 

29. Chase Briscoe 

30. Kaz Grala 

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