The NASCAR Cup Series Power Ranking after Richmond Raceway’s Toyota Owners 400 is presented as teams now head to Bristol for racing on Dirt.
After a brief hiatus, the power ranking is back following the seventh race of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season. Over the past couple of weeks, we saw Tyler Reddick emerge from the craziness to claim a checkered flag at COTA, and Kyle Larson outlasted teammate William Byron to grab his first win of the season at Richmond. With two races to consider, there is some movement in the Power Ranking this week, including another new No. 1.
The NASCAR Cup Series Power Ranking after Richmond
1. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports #24)
Last Ranking: 4
Though Byron did not pick up his third win of the season at either COTA or Richmond, he continued what has been a flying start to his 2023 campaign. Byron led 28 laps at COTA and paced the field for 117 laps at Richmond, meaning he has now led 25+ laps in four of the seven races this season. The overall numbers are incredible, as Byron currently leads the series in laps led (385), fastest laps (175), and percentage of top 15 laps (89.18 percent). His driver rating of 107.29 also leads the series by a wide margin. It is no coincidence that Byron is the only driver with multiple wins this season. He has put his team in position for the postseason with a series-high of five stage wins.
2. Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports #9)
Last Ranking: 3
Larson had a surprisingly uneventful day at COTA, failing to lead a lap and finishing outside the top ten. But he bounced back at Richmond by finally outdueling his teammate for a win. It has been a long time coming for Larson, as he was the best car for most of the two races at Las Vegas and Phoenix before coming up short. With the Hendrick point penalties rescinded, his position in the standings has drastically improved, and the win locks him into a playoff spot. The season is on the upswing for the 2021 champion. Now with the Bristol Dirt race coming next, he has a chance to continue the wave. Larson is one of the favorites, so now he needs to take advantage of his chance to rack up a second consecutive win.
3. Ross Chastain (Trackhouse Racing #1)
Last Ranking: 5
After starting the year with top-ten finishes at Daytona and Auto Club, Chastain scuffled somewhat, finishing 12th or worse in three straight races. However, he seems to have reclaimed his early success, as he has back-to-back top-five results in the past couple of weeks. Chastain is one of just four drivers to run every lap this season, and the fact that he brought home six finishes of 13th or better has kept him near the top of the standings all year, even during his somewhat rough three-week stretch. Chastain sits four points back of Alex Bowman for the series lead and could take over that spot at Bristol Dirt.
4. Joey Logano (Team Penske #22)
Last Ranking: 1
Logano had his worst race of the season at COTA, finishing with a -48 pass differential (aided by a spin) and a paltry 65.5 driver rating in a 28th-place finish. However, he bounced back at Richmond with a +32 pass differential and a top-ten result. Logano never contended for the win, but he ran most of the race inside the top ten and picked up some stage points, making it a pretty successful day overall. Logano is tied with Kyle Larson for sixth in series point standings, but he has a win at Bristol Dirt (2021) under his belt. With the series heading there next, he looks to repeat that feat despite not having a significant dirt racing background.
5. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing #11)
Last Ranking: 2
It feels odd that Hamlin has just two top-ten finishes and sits 12th in points, considering his car has been pretty good most weeks, aside from COTA, where he struggled all race. On the positive side, Hamlin has led laps in five of seven races and has completed every possible lap. But on the negative side, he has run into issues that have kept him from contending for the win on multiple occasions. On Sunday, Hamlin was guilty of several pit road penalties, which took him out of contention late in the race. He is looking to visit victory lane sooner rather than later as the number of available playoff spots is shrinking by the week.
6. Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing #20)
Last Ranking: 6
If anyone had doubts about Bell following his somewhat surprising run to the Championship 4 last season, they should be disappearing right about now. So far this season, Bell has been the most consistent Toyota driver. He sits third in points and leads the series with four top-five finishes, including a fourth-place run at Richmond, where he led 26 laps. The only two races this season where Bell has finished worse than sixth (Auto Club and COTA) ended with early accidents. Bell’s consistency has put him into a championship-contending tier, and he is one of the favorites at Bristol Dirt due to his dirt background.
7. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports #48)
Last Ranking: 7
Every week is harder to determine where Bowman should be placed in these rankings. On the one hand, he has found a new level of consistency this season that has led him to a series-high six top-ten finishes, and he currently leads the series in points. On the other hand, he has played a clear third fiddle to teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron in most races. With how strong the Hendrick Motorsports equipment appears to be this year, the case could be made that the Bowman performance is a lesser accomplishment.
8. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing #4)
Last Ranking: 8
Harvick continues to make his final season count. After a rough race at Atlanta ended his stretch of four straight top-15 finishes, Harvick responded by running a solid race at COTA and then finishing fifth at Richmond to get himself back on the right track. Though he may not be at the top of the list of championship contenders, Harvick has continued to be a threat every week, and will remain the same at Bristol.
9. Tyler Reddick (23XI Racing #45)
Last Ranking: 9
After a frustrating start to the season that included a pair of DNFs at Daytona and Auto Club, Reddick recorded back-to-back top fives at Phoenix and Atlanta before leading over half of the race at COTA and bringing home his first win of the year. Even after a so-so Richmond race, the Reddick stock is rising. He has quickly turned into one of the top road course racers, with three road course wins since the beginning of 2022. Bristol Dirt will offer another opportunity for Reddick to showcase his aggressive skillset and possibly come away with a win. After all, he led 99 laps there last year before tangling with Chase Briscoe on the final lap.
10. Kyle Busch (Richard Childress Racing #8)
Last Ranking: 12
Busch took advantage of the late-race chaos at COTA to sneak through the field and wound up finishing second before a mediocre day at Richmond left him with a 14th-place finish. His first seven races with Richard Childress Racing should be considered a success. So far, Busch has a win, four top-ten finishes, and sits eighth in points. A big part of his success has been his ability to avoid trouble, as he has run all but one of 1735 possible laps. Busch is the defending Bristol Dirt Race winner, so a repeat this year should be no surprise.
11. Brad Keselowski (RFK Racing #6)
Last Ranking: 11
It is officially time to consider Keselowski a legitimate contender again. However, it would be nice to see Keselowski visit victory lane to solidify his status, but after a disappointing 2022 season, year two with RFK Racing has been smooth. A driveshaft issue at COTA took him out of contention early, but he bounced back with a ttop-tenfinish at Richmond. Keselowski is second in the series with a 62.4 quality pass percentage, showing that he is truly able to pass anyone on track.
12. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske #12)
Last Ranking: 10
It has not been the best two-week stretch for Blaney, who finished outside the top 20 at COTA and Richmond, failing to pick up stage points in either race. Blaney is still coasting off of a strong start that saw him pick up three finishes of eighth or better in his first five races, but now he needs to turn up the heat soon. He has a surprisingly low 53.6 percent of his laps inside the top 15 and is just 15th in driver rating. Bristol Dirt resulted in a fifth-place finish for Blaney last year, a result he would be happy to repeat.
13. Martin Truex Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing #19)
Last Ranking: 13
Despite having recorded just one top-ten finish this season, Truex is ninth in points. A big part of that has come from his ability to stay out of trouble and finish every race in a decent spot. Truex has finished no worse than 19th this season, and despite a 11th-place result at Richmond, there was legitimate speed in the No. 19 machine. So far, Truex is the poster child for consistency in 2023, and he hopes to continue his run at Bristol Dirt, where he won in the Truck Series last year.
14. Daniel Suarez (Trackhouse Racing #99)
Last Ranking: 14
Since starting the season with three straight top-ten finishes, for Suarez, his year has taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction. Finishes of 22nd, 29th, 27th, and 23rd over his last four races have dropped Suarez out of the top 16 in points. He needs to get his team turned around in a hurry if he wants to make the playoffs for a second straight season, as every new winner will make it more difficult for Suarez to make the playoffs.
15. Josh Berry (Hendrick Motorsports #9)
Last Ranking: 18
The crowd who believes Berry should be a full-time Cup driver has to be elated with his performance so far replacing Chase Elliott. Though Berry gave way to road course ringer Jordan Taylor at COTA, he returned to the No. 9 car at Richmond and ran a terrific race, using some late strategy and a final push to finish a career-best second. Though his time in the Cup Series is likely coming to a close soon, his performance could very well open up opportunities for 2024 and beyond.
16. Austin Cindric (Team Penske #2)
Last Ranking: 15
Cindric went into COTA as one of the favorites due to his road racing pedigree, and while he did not come away with the win, his sixth place result was at least a good points day. Unfortunately, Cindric followed it up with an uncompetitive day at Richmond that saw him finish outside the top 25 and off the lead lap. Cindric has yet to take that second-year leap that many expected to see, as he has run just 31.7 percent of his laps inside the top 15 and is currently 16th in driver rating.
17. Chase Briscoe (Stewart-Haas Racing #14)
Last Ranking: 21
Briscoe failed to finish in the top ten in the last two races. He also has not hurt himself by finishing 15th and 12th. In the process, the No. 14 driver climbed five spots in the standings, rising from 26th to 21st after a rocky start to the year. There is plenty of ground to make up, but momentum is at least building after Briscoe was very competitive in the last two races. He was also one of the fastest cars at Bristol Dirt last year. So look for him to be a factor this weekend.
18. Ty Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing #54)
Last Ranking: 24
Like Briscoe, one spot above him, Gibbs is beginning to stack good races together and build momentum. With ninth-place finishes in three consecutive races after starting the season with four finishes of 16th or worse, Gibbs wants more. With the rookie finding his footing, the rest of the field should be on high alert. The immense talent of Gibbs was on full display in the Xfinity Series last year, and he is beginning to put the pieces together at the Cup level.
19. Chris Buescher (RFK Racing #17)
Last Ranking: 17
Buescher picked up his second top-ten finish of the season with a strong run at COTA but canceled that out by finishing 30th at Richmond. Unfortunately for Buescher, his car was pretty competitive, but his unique pitting strategy did not work in his favor. Regardless, Buescher is on the right side of the playoff cut line through seven races, an honor he would love to uphold when the regular season concludes. A bounce back at Bristol Dirt is crucial if he wants to make that happen.
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (JTG Daugherty Racing #47)
Last Ranking: 22
Plenty expected Stenhouse to drop like a rock in the standings after his upset win at Daytona. Though he has not maintained a top-five position, Stenhouse is still on the good side the playoff cut line. He has finished top ten at COTA before an early issue derailed what looked like another substantial day at Richmond. Stenhouse did get back on track but finished 35th, 16 laps down. Stenhouse is one of the premier dirt racers in the series, so he is one to watch this weekend.
BEST OF THE REST
21. Michael McDowell (Front Row Motorsports #34) LR: 2
22. Bubba Wallace (23XI Racing #23) LR: 16
23. Corey LaJoie (Spire Motorsports #7) LR: 23
24. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing #3) LR: 20
25. Erik Jones (Legacy Motor Co. #43) LR: 19
26. Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing #10) LR: 27
27. Todd Gilliland (Front Row Motorsports #38) LR: NR
28. A.J. Allmendinger (Kaulig Racing #16) LR: 26
29. Justin Haley (Kaulig Racing #31) LR: 25
30. Ryan Preece (Stewart-Haas Racing #41) LR: 30