Week 3 NASCAR Power Rankings

Las Vegas has come and gone, and allowed us to get another look at how all the full time drivers are shaking out in the NextGen car. Parity seems to have improved drastically, but there are still some drivers that are standing out from the rest. Here is a look at my take on how the field stacks up. These rankings are based on a combination of statistics, team and driver history, and the eye-test of someone who’s been watching for 20+ years. Any problems with the list? Come drop an angry reply on the Twitter thread, and catch some virtual hands.

Rank (+/-)DriverDiscussion
Kyle LarsonAfter being competitive all day, Larson just about stole the win at Las Vegas with a late strategy call, ultimately ending up second behind his Hendrick Teammate Alex Bowman – no reason to shake up the top spot, Larson is clearly the class of the field right now.
Kyle BuschWhat a weekend for Kyle Busch?! After wrecking in practice and having to switch to a cannibalized backup car Busch was a late race caution away from his first win of 2022. He looks very strong so far.
Austin CindricA bit of bad luck for a rookie is pretty much inevitable, and Cindric had his first run in with it at Las Vegas, getting caught up in an incident and coming home 19th. He still looks exceptionally strong though.
Joey LoganoLogano ran towards the front at times in Vegas, but was never really a threat to take the win, and ultimately came home outside of the top-10. He’ll look to regroup next week.
Aric AlmirolaAnother top-10! Almirola has been the picture of consistency in a season marked by just the opposite – good on him. If he can keep it up… well, Daniel Hemric showed what consistency can lead to last season in the Xfinity Series. Don’t rule it out.
Tyler ReddickManaged to put together another solid, albeit much quieter, run at Las Vegas to follow up his ill-fated dominant run at Fontana. If his legs stop going numb, that first win is coming sooner rather than later, book that.
Ryan BlaneyAnother great effort spoiled by bad luck, Blaney got caught up in the mess caused by a Brad Keselowski spin. He looks to be exceptionally competitive, but he’s yet to finish a race clean. Bad luck can only last for so long though, right?…
Martin Truex Jr.A late caution and strategy call by HMS spoiled a potential runner up finish, but Truex was still able to record his first top-10 of the season, and currently sits second in points.
Chase ElliottThe only HMS car to finish outside of the top-five at Vegas, Elliott ran well all day and racked up a lot of stage points, but still seems a bit off compared to previous years. Still, he’s competitive every week and can never be counted out.
Alex BowmanAfter “backing into” his seventh career win, Bowman is locked into the playoffs. After running well all day prior to the strategy call, things are looking good for the 48 team.
Erik JonesWas putting together another solid run at Vegas when disaster struck with three to go, sending Jones into the outside wall and ruining an otherwise good day that saw him on the fringe of the top-10 all day.
William ByronWhile never really a threat to take the win, Byron was solid all day, collecting points in both stages. Add to that, by holding up Kyle Busch in row two on the final restart he allowed his HMS teammates to come home 1-2.
Chase BriscoeAfter running fairly well early on, Briscoe got caught up in two separate incidents on Sunday, the second of which ended his day early. He seems to have made a big jump from last year in terms of competitiveness.
Ross ChastainA fantastic run by Chastain looked like it could yield his first career win. While he ultimately faded at the end, he still came home with a third place finish, and put the rest of the field on notice that Trackhouse is for real.
Christopher BellBell won his first career pole, but following the first green flag run of the day he was mostly a non-factor for the win, falling victim to a spin and ensuing cut tire late in stage two, eventually coming home p10. Still, Bell put forth a solid effort and is on the rise.
Austin DillonAnother solid result for Austin Dillon in Las Vegas saw him just miss a top-10. Both RCR cars look competitive this year, and if Dillon can keep up the consistency he’ll almost certainly be in the playoff discussion.
Daniel SuárezA victim of circumstance, Suárez unfortunately got taken out early in Vegas. Still, the 99 team was not particularly competitive prior to the incident, not quite able to follow up their speed from Fontana.
Denny HamlinHe was one of the best cars all day before a self-inflicted mistake broke his transmission and ruined his day. Hamlin will get it together soon enough, but there have been growing pains for him as he adjusts to the new car.
Kurt BuschA pretty quiet run saw Kurt come home with a solid top-15 effort. He has looked competitive at times, and is adjusting to his new team and the new car well.
Kevin HarvickHarvick hasn’t looked particularly competitive so far. After a relatively weak showing at Las Vegas, you have to wonder how the team will adjust moving forward to get Harvick back to where we expect.
Bubba WallaceHad a solid top-15 run going before Erik Jones’s late race wreck forced Bubba on a date with the inside wall. While he was able to finish the race, he came home with a disappointing p25. Both 23XI cars have shown reasonable speed so far, but you know they expect more.
Brad KeselowskiLast week I said Keselowski has looked like a “rocket sled off the rails” at times. Yeah, he still looks like that. Another self-inflicted wound led to a 24th place finish. Brad needs to get the Next Gen car under control, especially now that he’s footing the bill.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.An up and down day that saw him briefly inherit the lead on a strategy call, Stenhouse had a mostly quiet day at Las Vegas, and ended up outside of the top-20.
Chris BuescherA quiet day for Buescher all told saw him come home p18. Not much to add, I don’t remember his name being called all day.
Justin HaleyAvoided trouble for the most part, and brought home a top-20. Haley still has plenty room to grow, as the Kaulig cars have proven to have speed so far.
Michael McDowellA strategy call that put him on the front row on old tires led to a wreck that ruined both Chase Briscoe and Daniel Suárez’s days. Going on to finish p27, it was a day marked mostly by negatives for McDowell.
Harrison BurtonIn his third career start, Burton finally managed to avoid a wreck and came home 16th. While never showing exceptional speed, he managed to keep his head down (mostly), and came home p16.
Cole CusterAll in all it was a day to forget for Custer. After starting in the back, he was the cause of first incident caution of the day after a solo spin. Later in the day, his car died on the front stretch and his day was ended.
Corey LaJoieLaJoie kept his head down in an attrition filled race at Las Vegas and came home with a very solid top-15. That’s worth at least a few spots here, for sure – but if Spire can’t build on it, he’ll fall right back down.
Ty DillonPicked up a solid top-20 in Vegas on a day that saw his teammate fall victim to a late race wreck. You know the team was glad for a sold result from Ty to soften that blow, but he still seems to be well off the pace of his Petty GMS teammate.
Todd GillilandGilliland had a quiet day, which I suppose is the goal for a rookie on a small team. Brought it home clean in a respectable p23
Cody WareBrought it home clean in p26. After the race, he sang the praises of his RWR team on Twitter, applauding the improvements the team has made. Those improvements have been evident so far, but Cody needs a couple top-20’s before he can move up this list.
BJ McleodTo BJ’s credit, he has kept his head down, avoided trouble, raced respectfully, and finished in the top-30 every week – all things a small team needs. Unfortunately… the “Live Fast” cars are just too dang slow. Here’s hoping they improve.

Published by Walker Skeeter

Walker is a 4th year climatology PhD candidate at the University of Delaware. Despite being a climate scientist, Walker has been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years! His favorite drivers are Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman in cup, and AJ Allmendinger, Tommy Joe Martins, and Ryan Vargas in Xfinity. Outside of racing, he enjoys talking about (and studying) the weather, watching Baltimore sports, and playing video games.

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