Week 6 NASCAR Power Rankings

Week six saw a wild race at COTA, and yet another first time winner – who made a BIG jump in this weeks rankings! It also saw a few veterans struggle and fall accordingly. With each passing week it gets a bit easier to tell who’s rising to the top, and who isn’t- and some of those names in both cases aren’t what we really expected at the start of the year.

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:
Alex Bowman (+5)
Ross Chastain (+4)
Erik Jones (+4)

Trending Down:
Kyle Busch (-5)
Kurt Busch (-5)

Rank (+/-)DriverDiscussion
1
(+4)
Ross ChastainFour consecutive top-5 finishes, capped off by his first career win at COTA has Ross Chastain looking like a world-beater right now. How many watermelons are we gonna see smashed this season? Because I have a feeling it will be more than just one.
2
(+2)
Ryan BlaneyPicked up his third top-10 of the season after qualifying on pole at COTA. He continues to have consistent speed every week, and so long as he avoids trouble he is always a legit threat.
3
(-2)
Kyle LarsonLook, do I still believe that Kyle Larson is the most talented driver in the field, and a threat to win every week? Yes. Do I cede that his last three races have been abysmal, and that he no longer looks like the default class of the field? Also yes.
4
(-2)
Joey LoganoGot caught up in a wreck and came home in a season-worst p31 this past weekend. Despite that, he’s still sitting third in points thanks to his otherwise solid, consistent start.
5
(+1)
Chase BriscoeRan up front for a good while again late in the race before ultimately being forced to pit due to a flat tire. He would come home p30, a result which does not at all reflect how much speed he had. He’s really proving to be one of the biggest threats in the field
6
(+2)
Chase ElliottAfter a ho-hum start to the year things have picked up for Elliott as of late. While it was surprising to see him not even in the discussion for the win at a road course, he expanded his points lead and was consistent all day yet again.
7
(-)
Tyler ReddickStill managing to run towards the front consistently, Reddick yet again found himself in the discussion for his first career win at COTA, but ultimately fell short to a different first time winner – though he did still collect his second top-5 of the season.
8
(-5)
Kyle BuschThe last two weeks have been anything but nice to Kyle Busch. A wreckfest at Atlanta, followed by a race at COTA where he seemed to really struggle at times. Despite that, he was in line for another top-10 before spinning TWICE on the last lap, and came home with a disappointing p28 result.
9
(+5)
Alex BowmanAlex almost snagged another one! He ran well all day, and found himself battling for the win at the end before Ross Chastain shoved AJ Allmendinger into his door, forcing Bowman to settle for a p2 finish. Even if he doesn’t dominate races, he manages to put himself in the right place at the right time as well as any driver in the field.
10
(-1)
William ByronByron followed up his first win of the season with a quiet run at COTA, coming home p12. He currently sits sixth in points, and seems to have recovered from his rough start to the year.
11
(-)
Martin Truex Jr.Another quietly consistent day saw Truex pick up his third top-10 of the year, bringing home a p7 result. He’s only finished outside of the top-15 once this year, and currently sits seventh in points. The only thing keeping him out of my top-10 is the lack of any dominant runs.
12
(+1)
Daniel SuárezWon the first stage and looked like he was going to be the car to beat at COTA. Unfortunately for him, NASCAR’s insistence on keeping stage rules the same at road courses despite the convoluted strategy implications put Suarez behind the eight ball on the stage two restart, where he was spun and suffered damage. He had to settle for a p24 finish that was not at all indicative of the speed he had.
13
(-1)
Kevin HarvickAnother pretty quiet day for Harvick saw him just miss out on his third top-10, coming home 11th. He’s not looked exceptional at any point this year, but if the season ended today he would be in the playoffs on points. Though I don’t imagine there is going to be a surplus of point-in’s for the playoffs this year…
14
(-)
Austin CindricRan up front for a bit at COTA, as you would expect for a road racer as good as Cindric, but ended up spinning mid-race. He would recover however for a very solid p8, his second top-10 of the year. It was much needed after his last few races.
15
(-5)
Kurt BuschAfter bringing home two straight top-5’s for 23XI, Kurt Busch had a forgettable day at COTA as he got caught up in a wreck and came home 32nd. I try not to hold bad results caused by wrecks against drivers in these rankings, but he had been struggling prior to that wreck as well.
16
(-)
Aric AlmirolaAric Almirola is the only driver in the field to finish on the lead lap every race this year. He continues his quietly consistent year and sits 8th in points, though his last two results have both been outside of the top-15.
17
(-)
Austin DillonAfter two straight DNF’s, Dillon collected his second top-10 of the year at COTA, bringing home a p10 result. It was much needed, as he is a driver I imagine will be right around the playoff cut-line.
18
(+4)
Erik JonesFinally managed to avoid trouble (for the most part) and brought home the solid finish he deserved in p9. These Petty GMS cars are faster than we would normally expect, and Jones is a talented driver – he just needs to keep the wheels on it
19
(+2)
Christopher BellPicked up his first top-5 of the year this past weekend. Could that result mark the end of what has been a very poor start for Bell? You know he hopes so. The talent is there, that’s always been clear – we just need to start seeing the results consistently.
20
(-2)
Denny HamlinWhen will it end? Despite collecting his first stage win of the year, another finish outside of the top-15 has Denny Hamlin’s team reeling and looking for answers. The whole of the Toyota camp has been mostly unimpressive this year, but Hamlin in particular can’t seem to catch a break.
21
(-2)
Chris BuescherA pretty quiet day for Buescher saw him bring home a 21st place finish. In light of Brad Keselowski’s massive penalty, Buescher now seems like RFK’s best shot at a playoff spot. Sitting 19th in points currently, he is at least in the discussion.
22
(-2)
Bubba WallaceHad been running okay at COTA, but an unfortunate incident saw Bubba lose a wheel on track, which means he will have to run his next four races without his normal crew chief. If it hasn’t been one thing it’s been another for Bubba since his runner-up finish at the Daytona 500.
23
(+1)
Justin HaleyRan inside the top-10 at times this past weekend, before ultimately coming home p15. It marks his second straight top-15, and fourth straight top-20. I’ve had high expectations for this team from the start of the season – let’s see if they can keep improving.
24
(-1)
Brad KeselowskiAfter having one of the steepest penalties in the sport’s history levied against him, Keselowski finds himself in a massive hole points-wise, and will need a win to even have a shot at the playoffs. You have to wonder how that is going to impact the team’s performance moving forward.
25
(+1)
Ty DillonTy Dillon has finished outside of the top-20 exactly once this year, and that was just due to a wreck in that wild Atlanta race. While it’s not been the least bit flashy, Ty Dillon is doing EXACTLY what his small team wants – keeping the car clean, and bringing home solid results.
26
(-1)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.While he’s certainly had his moments this year, two straight finishes outside of the top-30 have Stenhouse in a pretty bad spot all of a sudden. Another guy who is likely to be hanging out around the cut line, he’ll likely need a win. Watch out for him at the next superspeedway race…
27
(-)
Cole CusterAnother pretty poor showing for Custer. He ran towards to front for a while last week, but ultimately ended up spinning and finished outside of the top-20 for the third time this year. He’s still yet to pick up a top-10, despite being in SHR equipment.
28
(+1)
Michael McDowellPicked up his second top-15 of the year at COTA, but you know he expected more as a road racing expert.
29
(+1)
Todd GillilandCollected a new career-best finish at COTA of 16th place, recovering from last weeks rookie mistake at Atlanta. Has three top-20’s in the first six races, which isn’t too shabby considering the quality of equipment.
30
(-2)
Corey LaJoieCame back down to Earth a bit after scoring his first career top-5. Struggled quite a bit at COTA before a mechanical issue ended his race early.
31
(-)
Harrison BurtonPut together another pretty solid run at COTA, coming home p17. If he can keep it going and stay out of trouble, he’ll start to climb the rankings. Until then though, he sits third to last in points among drivers who have started every race – leading only Brad Keselowski who was penalized 100 points last week, and Cody Ware.
32
(-)
Cody WareA quiet week for the RWR 51 car saw Ware come home p27. Kept the car clean though, and for small teams that’s just as important as good results sometimes. On that note, Ware has only been involved in one incident this year according to TobyChristie.com, which is the least of all drivers who have started every race – and that one wasn’t even of his making.
___________________________________

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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