Week 5 NASCAR Power Rankings

We’re now five races into the season, and it’s becoming clearer each week which drivers are legit championship threats, who are playoff contenders, and who are neither. This week’s race at Atlanta was a wild one, and the reconfigured pseudo-superspeedway should almost have it’s results taken with a grain of salt – nonetheless, useful information can still be taken away from the action, and we’ll break it down here.

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 (@PitBoxPress), and throw some virtual hands!

Trending Up:
William Byron (+5)
Kurt Busch (+5)
Daniel Suárez (+4)

Trending Down:
Austin Cindric (-7)
Aric Almirola (-5)

Kyle LarsonWith consecutive poor finishes, you’d think it’d be a tad difficult to justify Larson still being at the top. With that said, I have a question for the reader – do you honestly think that there is a driver in the field better than Kyle Larson right now? I imagine your answer is the same as mine: no.
Joey LoganoLost the points lead, but still ran a solid race this past week, and has done so every race so far. Currently sitting second in points, sporting the third best average finish, second best average running position, and third best driver rating (NASCAR.com), Logano is a bonafide championship contender.
Kyle BuschSuffered his first DNF of the year at Atlanta after getting together with Austin Dillon towards the end of stage one. Clearly unhappy with the new configuration of Atlanta, he walked away from reporters after his car was loaded up on the hauler.
Ryan BlaneyBitten by the bad luck bug again in Atlanta, Blaney has been a threat to win every week so far – he just keeps getting caught up in messes. Once he’s able to stay out of trouble, I imagine he’ll start stringing some wins together.
Ross ChastainThe pleasant surprise of the year so far, Ross Chastain has scored a top-three in each of the last three races. If it wasn’t for wrecks in both of the first two races of the year, he would quite possibly be the points leader. Both he and the whole of Trackhouse are the real darkhorse this year it seems.
Chase BriscoeWas in line for another possible top-five at Atlanta before getting into the wall on the final lap. Briscoe continues to put on a good show early in the year, and has been rowing the boat for SHR thus far.
Tyler ReddickIt was another week where it looked like Tyler Reddick could pick up his first career win, but he blew a tire while running third and ended up with a DNF. He still looks strong, but he needs some luck on his side, and that’s eluded him at times this year.
Chase Elliott“Weak link” the whitest side of my ass” – PBP writer Garrett Cook.

Despite not really being a threat to win this year save for at Auto Club, Chase has been consistent, has racked up loads of stage points, and is now the points leader.
William ByronWas the dominant car for much of the day at Atlanta, and picked up his third career win. Despite starting the year with two DNFs, Byron has the most stage points of any driver in the field and currently sits fourth in points.
Kurt BuschBrought home a second consecutive top-five, marking the first time 23XI has accomplished such a feat. Picking up the 2002 Cup Series champion has paid big dividends for the team so far, as he has been very competitive.
Martin Truex Jr.A quietly consistent run saw Truex pick up his second top-10 of the year, recovering from his poor run at Phoenix. While he’s not been flashy or “bad fast” so far, he currently sits eighth in points.
Kevin HarvickHarvick had another pretty quiet day at Atlanta. He ran towards the front for a bit, but was caught up in a wreck towards the end of stage two and never really recovered. It continues what has been a pretty ho-hum year for Harvick thus far.
Daniel SuárezSuárez collected his third top-10 and second top-five of the year in what was a banner day for Trackhouse Racing. I just can’t get over how competetive they looks so far. Hopefully it lasts.
Austin CindricThe rookie fall off seems to be rolling for Cindric, as he was collected in a wreck (or rather, pushed into a wreck), and collected his first career DNF. Who cares though, he won the Daytona 500! Plus we’re heading to a road course next week. He’ll be just fine.
Alex BowmanBrought home a top-10 in Atlanta, but was never really in the discussion for the win – surprising given his past success at superspeedways. I’m having trouble getting a read on just how consistently competitive Bowman can be this year.
Aric AlmirolaAlmirola is one of those drivers that is hard to rank. On the one hand, he has been very consistent (and was having another solid run before spinning at Atlanta), but on the other hand he just doesn’t seem like a threat to win any given week. Around the playoff cut line seems appropriate.
Austin DillonWas running towards the front in Atlanta before being spun by Kyle Busch. A fringe playoff contender, he’s had two straight good runs spoiled by someone driving into the back of him.
Denny HamlinHamlin’s *Bad Luck Tour 2022* continued in Atlanta as he yet again got caught up in a wreck, and is still yet to crack the top-10. He currently sits a shocking-for-him 26th in points. It has to turn around eventually…right?
Chris BuescherCollected his second straight top-10 this week, but this time did so while crossing the line backwards after a wreck coming to the line – how fun! Save for a DNF at Auto Club, he’s been quietly consistent so far.
Bubba WallaceA heartbreaker for Bubba after he ran up front in the closing laps of the race. Had a shot at the win, but he got loose in turn two of the final lap, then got caught up in a big wreck coming to the line in what he called “p1 on the hardest hit list”. Still, he proved yet again that he is one of the absolute best superspeedway drivers in the field.
Christopher BellWell… it LOOKED like Christopher Bell was going to pick up his first top-5 of the year, but he got hit with a penalty for passing below the yellow (red?) line, and was relegated to a 23rd place finish instead. It marked his fourth finish outside of the top-20 in five races, and he currently sits 30th in points.
Erik JonesThree weeks, three wrecks for Erik Jones – though this one was more tame than the last two, and he was still able to finish the race and came home 14th.
Brad KeselowskiJust missed collecting his second top-10, coming home p12. Brad seemed to have the car a bit more under control this week, as he didn’t get caught up in any big messes. Still need to see more out of Keselowski before deciding if my low expectation were completely warranted.
Justin HaleyWas on the cusp of his first top-10 of the season, but got squeezed to the bottom of the track coming to the line by Chris Buescher. With the yellow line rule in effect, and nowhere else to go, Haley held his line, which triggered a massive wreck coming to the checkered. He would end up 11th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Did what he so often does at superspeedways – ran up front, but ended up wrecking. Stenhouse blew a tire while leading towards the end of stage two and would cause a four car wreck that would end his day.
Ty DillonGot caught up in a wreck early and recorded his first DNF of the season, and his first finish outside of the top-20. Despite the wreck, his early season consistency has been a nice surprise. Following his first real setback it will be interesting to see how the team moves forward.
Cole CusterAnother bad day for Custer as he collected his second DNF of the year. I don’t want to put him any lower on the list for quality of equipment alone, because all it takes is one race where things fall his way and we could have another Kentucky 2020 on our hands.
Corey LaJoieCorey LaJoie secured his first career top-5 in an incredibly impressive run at Atlanta. While a top-5 at a superspeedway shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a sign of “growth” for the team… it’s undeniably something to be proud of, and worthy of a bump here.
Michael McDowellSince his solid p7 finish at Daytona, McDowell’s best run was actually this last week at Atlanta – a 24th place result. He’s not had much to write home about thus far.
Todd GillilandMade a big mistake at Atlanta, splitting the field along with another car while being lapped, which led to a hard wreck. “I definitely feel super super dumb about that” Gilliland said of the incident.
Harrison BurtonAnother weak showing has Harrison Burton second to last in points among all full time drivers. I keep waiting for him to put together a good run, but it still hasn’t materialized.
Cody WareAtlanta was a heartbreaker for Cody Ware. He looked like he may have been on the way to his first career top-10, but got caught up in an incident with two lapped cars. Still, the strong run he was having up to that point was a good sign of continued growth for RWR.
N/ABJ McleodLive Fast Motorsports has a different driver this week – road course specialist Andy Lally. With that, B.J. McLeod is no longer a “full-time” driver, and will not show up in these rankings anymore. Unfortunate, but hopefully Lally can get Live Fast a good result.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: