Week 19 NASCAR Power Rankings

After taking a few months off from these rankings, I decided to jump back in and take a look at how things have been shaking out recently. Chase Elliott & Ross Chastain have established themselves as the class of the field, but with relative parity throughout the running order there are some surprises throughout.

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!

RankDriverDiscussion
1Chase ElliottElliott’s relatively ho-hum start to the season seems like a million years ago. The current points leader, and one of the only drivers with multiple wins, Chase Elliott has firmly established himself as a championship favorite.
2Ross ChastainSpeaking of drivers with multiple wins, Ross Chastain continues to put together good run after good run. He’s put together five top-10’s in his last six races, currently sits third in points, and is a legitimate darkhorse championship threat – so long as some of the enemies he’s made along the way don’t choose to exact revenge at an inconvenient time.
3Ryan BlaneyNow we move to a driver with NO wins, which I have to admit is a surprise. Ryan Blaney sits second in points and has the third best average finish in the series… but still hasn’t managed to summit the mountain and pick up a win. With eight races left until the playoffs, there is a non-zero chance that the driver with the second most points doesn’t even make the playoffs.
4Kyle LarsonThe defending champ has certainly not been dominant this year, particularly when you compare his numbers to last year, but he’s still been plenty good, and is a threat to win every week. Sitting fourth in points, he’s firmly in the discussion of championship favorites.
5Tyler ReddickHE DID IT! After several heartbreakers this year, Tyler Reddick finally managed to pick up his first career win and lock himself into the playoffs – good thing too, because he has been at times one of the best cars in the series. RCR can be a tad inconsistent with the speed they bring to the track, but there’s no doubt Reddick has the talent to make a deep playoff run.
6Kyle BuschAfter three straight podium finishes, Kyle Busch is now riding a wave of three straight finishes outside of the top-20. All of the Toyotas have been struggling lately, but I’ve never been one to count out Kyle Busch.
7Joey LoganoLocked into the playoffs with two wins and sitting fifth in points, Logano is driving the bus for Penske. Outside of those two wins though, it’s been an up and down, relatively inconsistent season for Logano, with eight top-10’s to go with nine finishes outside of the top-15.
8Alex BowmanLocked into the playoffs by virtue of a “backed into” win, Bowman has been quietly consistent, holding the sixth best average finish in the field. While he hasn’t had blistering pace at any point this year, Bowman is the master of staying in races and putting himself in the right place at the right time – which means you can never count him out.
9Martin Truex Jr.While he still hasn’t picked up a win, Truex has been more consistently competitive than most of his Toyota counterparts. Again though, without a win, we’re just a few fluke winners away from MTJ not making the playoffs despite sitting seventh in points – and with Atlanta, Daytona, and a few road courses left to go before the playoffs, you can’t rule that out.
10Daniel SuárezProbably the best feel good story in a season full of them saw Daniel Suárez pick up his first career win in Sonoma. Suárez has at times this year shown incredible pace on par with his Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain, but has been a tad more inconsistent with his results with a ho-hum average finish of 17.2. That won’t cut it come playoff time, but the pace of the #99 team has steadily improved as the year has worn on.
11Christopher BellBell has quietly put together a pretty strong campaign, racking up 10 top-10’s, including six in the last eight races. With that said, I’m still waiting for him to break out and put together a dominant performance like he used to all the time in his Xfinity days. He currently holds the 16th and final playoff spot by 20 points over Kevin Harvick – but it feels like he’ll need a win to get in.
12Kevin HarvickIt feels… wrong… seeing Kevin Harvick below the cut line. I feel dirty just looking a the standings. Make it stop! He has ten top-10’s on the year, so they have at least had solid pace, he just hasn’t been able to run all he way up front. In fact, he’s only led 13 laps ALL YEAR.
13William ByronByron is one of the five drivers with two wins on the year, so he’s sitting just fine points-wise. However, in the ten races since his win at Martinsville, Byron has only managed to pick up ONE top-10, a p9 at Sonoma. In fact, he only has five top-10’s all year. That’s not gonna cut it.
14Chase BriscoeThat win feels like it was a while ago. I keep waiting for Briscoe to put together a stretch of good runs, but it hasn’t happened yet. He only has four top-10’s on the year, none of which have been strung together consecutively.
15Kurt Busch23XI has struggled with consistency on the year, but the elder Busch brother managed to lock himself into the playoffs with a win, and has put together some very good runs on the year, with seven top-10’s and five top-5’s. It’s just a matter of bringing that pace every week.
16Denny HamlinEvery time it seems like Hamlin has shaken those early season gremlins, he puts together another lackluster run. He has those two wins, so he’ll basically get a clean slate when the playoffs start – but he only has four top-10’s on the year, and has been wildly inconsistent.
17Austin DillonFor a while there Austin Dillon looked like a legit playoff contender. With the playoff field filling up with locked in drivers however, it’s going to take a win to get Dillon in. He’s won a few times in the past, but even so the #3 team hasn’t really had race-winning pace at any point this year.
18Erik JonesEven though they may not have race winning pace, 2022 has been a huge step forward for Petty GMS in terms of competitiveness. Jones has five top-10’s on the year, leads the series in green flag passes, and seems to have solid pace just about every week. The future looks brighter for the 43 team than it has in a while.
19Austin CindricAfter being pretty average following his Daytona 500 win, Cindric is riding a nice little run of three straight top-10’s. If he can keep that kind of pace going, he may actually be able to make something happen come playoff time.
20Chris BuescherSurprisingly, Buescher has been far and away the more competitive of the two RFK racing cars, with five top-10’s and finishing just one spot short of picking up his second career win at Sonoma. I’ve been impressed with his pace, but as a former Xfinity Series champion I’m certainly not surprised. In the right situation, he can thrive.
21Aric AlmirolaAlmirola has five top-10’s on the year and has managed to keep mostly out of trouble all year, with no DNF’s on the season – the only driver who can say that. In a year marked by parity and winners galore however, quiet consistency isn’t going to cut it if he wants to make the playoffs in his final season.
22Michael McDowellHow about Michael McDowell? With six top-10’s in the last ten races, including a p3 at Sonoma, McDowell and the Front Row Motorsports team seems to be reaping the benefits of the NextGen car’s parity more than some of their other small team counterparts.
23Bubba WallaceIf you’ve ever wondered whether or not NASCAR is truly a team sport, all it takes is one look at Bubba Wallace’s 2022 campaign to confirm that fact. In a year where he has driven some of his best races and had legit race winning speed at times, Wallace’s pit crew has seemed hell-bent of ruining any good runs. And when it’s not been his pit crew, it’s been him getting caught up in someone else’s mess. Still, it feels like this is a team that could win on any given week. He’s my pick for Atlanta, for the record…
24Ricky Stenhouse Jr.After an abysmal start to the year, Stenhouse went on a four race tear with four consecutive top-10’s including a surprise runner-up at Dover. He’s cooled off from that stretch, with four finishes outside of the top-15, but the fact remains that – albeit inconsistently – the pace is there.
25Brad KeselowskiIt ‘s been a very disappointing year for Brad Keselowski, with only two top-10’s on the year (and even those were only p9 and p10 respectively). Is it possible that that when the team incurred that huge early season penalty they shifted their focus more to Buescher than Keselowski? Who knows, but the fact remains – there is some work to do with this team. Keselowski is too talented to be running like this.
26Justin HaleyI expected a bit more out of Kaulig this year, but they’re new to this – they’ll get there. To Haley’s credit, he has ten top-20 finishes, and only two DNF’s. Look for them to improve drastically next season.
27Ty DillonNot much to write here save for praise. Ty Dillon keeps doing what he needs to do as the second car for Petty GMS – he’s keeping it clean, racing smart, and bringing home relatively consistent results.
28Cole CusterTo tell you the truth, I really don’t like writing about Cole Custer. So for this one, I’m just going to list off some stats, and ask that you remember he is literally driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Top-10’s: 0
Top-15’s: 4
Average Finish: 22.1
DNF’s: 5
Standings: 27th

We all know why he’s there… but how long is SHR going to put up with this?
29Harrison BurtonHe’s had a few flashes of relative competitiveness, but by and large Burton has put together a pretty bad year by the Wood Brothers recent standards. If the team sticks with him for the long run I certainly think he’ll figure it out… but that’s never really been the 21 team’s M.O. so I’m curious to see how the next couple years go for them.
30Todd GillilandGilliland is another guy who, similar to Ty Dillon, is doing exactly what he needs to as the second car for a small team – keeping it relatively clean, and racing smart. Nothing bad to say about that, the cars just aren’t fast enough for him to do much with.
31Corey LaJoieLaJoie and Spire continue to be one of the more disappointing stories of the season, as I expected a good bit more out of them in terms of pace. However, we’re heading to Atlanta this week, where LaJoie put together a very impressive fifth place run earlier in the year – so let’s see if we can go full on chaos mode and throw a LaJoie win into the playoff picture!
32Cody WareUnfortunately, not even the power of anime can help these RWR cars go faster. You can only do so much when you’re given so little, and Cody Ware is a great example of that. You have to appreciate his improvements though – he’s not been on the blunder highlight reel much at all this year compared to years past, and that’s absolutely worth something.
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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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