In its second appearance on the NASCAR schedule, Circuit of the Americas sent another jolt through the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.
Ross ChestnutThe recent series of high quality performances finally resulted in a victory. But with a larger sample of the 2022 season available, more trends are starting to develop.
Here’s where the drivers rank after six Cup Series races:
NASCAR power rankings
1. Ross Chastain (last week: #4) With an average of 2.0 in its last four races, the No. 1 Chevrolet climbs to first place in the standings. Chastain knocked on the door for his first career victory last month. And while he had to smash the door of turn 19 in the form of AJ Allmendinger, Chastain finally got the job done. That he did it in the middle of a four-race top-three streak proves that Chastain is no fluke. Chastain also led the second-most Cup Series laps through six races. There’s no guarantee Trackhouse Racing can maintain its momentum, but there’s no reason to doubt the organization after six strong performances.
2. ryan blaney (Last week: #2) Blaney has won three races in 2021 and is yet to break through this year, but the No. 12 Ford continues to grind its way to the front each week. Outside of fourth-place efforts at Daytona and Phoenix, his finishes aren’t quite there yet. But Sunday marked another strong run for Blaney as he finished sixth at COTA. Blaney also retains the lead in laps and holds the best average run position (10.107) in the series.
3. Tyler Red Dick (Last week: #1) Maybe a two-spot drop is a little harsh after posting a top-five and second-best COTA average race position, but Reddick’s resume throughout the season is still not what they are. Chastain and Blaney. Driver Richard Childress Racing returned to the front row for Sunday’s extra-time restart but slipped to fifth in one lap. Reddick proved he was quick and could run with the best in the series, with the fourth-best average position this season at 12.487. But without a win – or at least regular laps led – all Reddick has shown is potential. Three of his races resulted in top 10 finishes – seventh after one lap at Vegas, third at Phoenix, and fifth at COTA; the others saw him outside the top 20 — 35th at Daytona, 24th at the Auto Club and 28th at Atlanta.
4. Chase Elliot (Last week: #5) Elliott remains atop the standings after another solid run on a road course, which should come as no surprise. What was a little surprising was that Elliott was never a factor for the COTA win, failing to lead a single lap. But the #9 Chevy kept its nose pretty clean (although Kyle Busch could challenge that after a rotation of his bumper), and Elliott notched his first top five of the season. It was a quiet fourth place, but it continues a steady start to Elliott’s season in which he only finished outside the top 11 once and holds the second-best average race position in the league. series. Elliott hasn’t felt like a threat to win since Auto Club, but maybe his run at COTA can help his future.
5. Joey Logan (Last week: #6) Logano wasn’t flashy, but like Elliott, he raced well enough to hold third in points and average race position. His COTA show didn’t go as well after a lap 67 crash with Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch relegated it to a 31st place finish, but the No. 22 team still looked more competitive than most in six races. Finishes will have to improve, but Sunday marked the first time in five races that Logano finished worse than 14th. Richmond should give Logano a chance to start posting better results.
6. Kyle Larson (last week: #3) The defending champion’s season did not go as planned. In six races, Larson has one win (Auto Club) and one second place (Las Vegas) and four finishes of 29th or worse. The #5 Chevy was running well before its myriad problems, but those problems are piling up in a hurry. No one should be ready to count a driver who has won 11 races since the start of last season, but a seventh-best average race position is only worth it if two-thirds of the young season has produced terrible results. The biggest factor this week was a crash at Turn 1 with Logano and Kurt Busch that created the overtime restart. It’s hard to blame Larson for the issues that plagued him. But results matter, and his have fallen sharply.
7. Alex Bowman (Last week: unrated) Bowman’s lack of consistency always makes him difficult to classify properly. This consistency has plagued the No. 48 team for years, dating back to its days as the No. 88 program. Chastain with Allmendinger sent the #16 car to Bowman, allowing Chastain to pull away while Bowman came in second. Bowman has finished first (Vegas), 14th (Phoenix), 10th (Atlanta) and second in his last four outings. These outings are better than most, and #48 could be on the rise as others falter.
8. William Byron (Last week: #8) Byron was very calm at COTA, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the heels of its victory in Atlanta, the #24 Chevrolet looked pretty average compared to the other contenders of the day. His 12th place finish shows just as much, but Byron’s results have been a rollercoaster ride. After two retirements at the start of the season, the #24 car finished fifth, 18th, first and 12th. The team hasn’t been bad by any means, but with the fifth-best average finish in the series (12.501), they certainly have to figure out which of those finishes is most indicative of where they’re running.
9. Kyle Busch (last week: #7) Kyle Busch has faced adversity almost every week this season. The #18 Toyota was fast but had to overcome spins or mishaps in at least five of the six races this season. After an early rotation at COTA, Busch had recovered to run near the top five on the final restart. But two laps in the final two laps relegated Busch to a 28th-place finish. COTA and Atlanta (33rd) mark Busch’s results only worse than 14th, but the two-time champion is forced to struggle regularly.
ten. Chasing Briscoe (Last week: #9) Briscoe was in contention to win at COTA in the final laps, but a flat tire forced through the esses – before another flat tire on the final lap – ruined a strong performance for Briscoe. The #14 Ford is still competitive every week and has now led laps in four of six races this season. But the second-year driver is still learning his limits and that was evident on Sunday.
Abandoned: Kurt Busch (last week: #10)