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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Martinsville 2

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 28, 2019, 5:10 pm ET

The playoffs are making a huge impact on the Fantasy Power Rankings. This week’s top-10 includes all eight drivers currently in contention for the Cup and while some of them are rising to the challenge, others are making costly mistakes that has created a lot of movement in the list below.

The Fantasy Power Rankings looks at the last 45 days and this week that means it begins with the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that kicked off the playoffs. No one has swept the top 10 in the past seven races, although it is notable that the drivers ranked first and second this week have finished that well in all but one race.

Neither Truex nor Harvick have looked flawless for the entire playoffs, but they have been better than the rest of the field. Third-place Denny Hamlin comes close with five top-fives in the last seven races, but he stumbled at Vegas and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.  

One other major factor impacting this week’s Power Rankings is how the non-playoff contenders have raced those still competing for the Cup. They refuse to move over for the points’ leaders – and they shouldn't have to – but the bottom line has been that it is difficult to determine clear cut favorites from one week to the next.


1. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 5) +4
Playoff Rank: 1
Weeks in the top 10: 30
FPR#: 6.02

Martin Truex Jr. had an almost perfect Driver Rating last week after leading 464 laps and winning both stages in route to his seventh win of the season. Three of those victories have come in the playoffs and as the winner of the first race of the Round of 8, he is now the first driver locked into the championship round. That level of dominance is enough to elevate him to the top spot.

2. Kevin Harvick (last week: 1) -1
Playoff Rank: 5
Weeks in the top 10: 33
FPR#: 6.55

Harvick struggled for most of the First Data 500, but his late-race surge gave him his eighth top-10 in the last nine races. The team is below the cutline for the Championship 4, however, and Harvick’s pluck and consistency is not going to be enough unless they can at least challenge for wins and earn top-fives. Harvick’s last top-five came at Dover International Speedway three weeks ago.

3. Denny Hamlin (last week: 2) -1
Playoff Rank: 2
Weeks in the top 10: 26
FPR#: 7.73

Hamlin has the second-most wins of the season with five. Notably, his most recent victory came on one of the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks; equally important is the fact that he won the Texas Motor Speedway spring race. Hamlin has been more aggressive in recent weeks than we’ve seen at any other point of his career and that is what it will take to challenge for the championship.

4. Brad Keselowski (last week: 10) +6
Playoff Rank: NA
Weeks in the top 10: 27
FPR#: 8.76

We expected Keselowski to be strong last week and ultimately he rewarded us with a third-place finish. That was his seventh top-five in the last eight races at Martinsville Speedway, but his first top-10 in the last four races of 2019. With a 38th-place finish in the Brickyard 400 aging out of the Power Ranking formula, Kez rocketed up the chart. His performance next week at Texas will determine a lot about his overall strength because his last eight attempts on 1.5-milers have alternated top-fives with results outside the top 15.

5. Ryan Blaney (last week: 3) -2
Playoff Rank: 6
Weeks in the top 10: 25
FPR#: 9.35

Since Las Vegas, Blaney has been a model of inconsistency. He finished fifth on the Nevada 1.5-miler and was 17th the next week at Richmond Raceway. Since then he has alternated top-10s with results outside the top 20 and if not for a victory at Talladega Superspeedway, he would not be in playoff contention any longer. Time is running out and from this point on it will take a perfect record of top-10s to make him a good value for fantasy players.

6. William Byron (last week: 7) +1
Playoff Rank: NA
Weeks in the top 10: 18
FPR#: 9.96

The most important number in the heading above is 18: the number of weeks Byron has been a part of this list. We keep trying to say the right things about his overall improvement, but in the back of many fantasy players’ minds, there has been some caution about whether a sophomore slump would interfere with the 2019 season. Last week’s performance at Martinsville has all but removed that doubt.

7. Kyle Larson (last week: 9) +2
Playoff Rank: 7
Weeks in the top 10: 19
FPR#: 9.96

Larson’s past struggles at Martinsville were well-documented and at the start of the race, it was apparent why he was not highly valued in pre-race coverage. Championship caliber teams put aside that noise and keep working on their car. By the end of the First Data 500, they finally got it right and Larson scored his first Martinsville top-10 in three seasons.

8. Kyle Busch (last week: 1) +3
Playoff Rank: 3
Weeks in the top 10: 29
FPR#: 10.64

After a four-week hiatus, Busch returned to the Fantasy Power Rankings top-10. He ran well for most of the race, but frustration boiled over near the end when his feathers were ruffled by Aric Almirola in retaliation for how the two had raced at Martinsville this spring. Busch pinched Almirola and wrecked both cars. More importantly, he made an enemy who has vowed to “make his life hell” for the remainder of the playoffs – and who nothing to lose in keeping that promise.

9. Joey Logano (last week: 8) -1
Playoff Rank: 4
Weeks in the top 10: 31
FPR#: 11.20

To get a sense of how the playoff is impacting driver performance, look at everyone except Truex last week. Busch, Hamlin, and Logano all had on track incidents created by an unwillingness to back down. There are two weeks remaining before Homestead and the likelihood of only one driver advancing on points is high. That means the slightest loss of position at the end of the race is going to create a maelstrom of negative emotions.

10. Chase Elliott (last week: 4) -6
Playoff Rank: 8
Weeks in the top 10: 23
FPR#: 11.39

The Round of 8 began exactly as the Round of 12 for Elliott: in a 30-something finish and a deep hole. With a points’ deficit of more than 40 to the cutline, Elliott is going to have to race over his head to advance to the Championship Four and that is going to impact his results – and almost certainly not in a positive manner.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Clint Bowyer (last week: 6) -5
Playoff Rank: NA
Weeks in the top 10: 9
FPR#: 12.30

For most of the First Data 500 weekend, it appeared Bowyer would avenge the fact that he failed to make the Round of 8. Crash damage and a broken track bar proved that the best-laid plans of drivers and teams – and fantasy players – oft go awry. With a 35th in the First Data 500, Bowyer currently has three results outside the top 20 in his last seven races.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Martin Truex Jr.

6.02

5

4

2.

Kevin Harvick

6.55

1

-1

3.

Denny Hamlin

7.73

2

-1

4.

Brad Keselowski

8.76

10

6

5.

Ryan Blaney

9.35

3

-2

6.

William Byron

9.96

7

1

7.

Kyle Larson

10.34

9

2

8.

Kyle Busch

10.64

11

3

9.

Joey Logano

11.20

8

-1

10.

Chase Elliott

11.39

4

-6

 

11.

Clint Bowyer

12.30

6

-5

12.

Aric Almirola

14.30

12

0

13.

Kurt Busch

14.76

17

4

14.

Matt DiBenedetto

14.76

16

2

15.

Jimmie Johnson

14.81

13

-2

16.

Daniel Suarez

16.09

15

-1

17.

Alex Bowman

16.38

14

-3

18.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

16.66

21

3

19.

Austin Dillon

17.66

18

-1

20.

Ryan Newman

18.41

20

0

21.

Paul Menard

18.95

19

-2

22.

Erik Jones

20.37

26

4

23.

Chris Buescher

21.11

23

0

24.

Ty Dillon

21.64

22

-2

25.

Michael McDowell

21.86

24

-1

26.

Bubba Wallace

22.94

25

-1

27.

Daniel Hemric

23.69

28

1

28.

Ryan Preece

24.33

27

-1

29.

Parker Kligerman

25.53

32

3

30.

David Ragan

25.67

31

1

31.

Matt Tifft

25.90

29

-2

32.

Brendan Gaughan

26.00

30

-2

33.

Corey LaJoie

26.75

33

0

34.

Landon Cassill

29.03

36

2

35.

Ross Chastain

30.39

35

0

36.

Matt Crafton

30.71

 

NA

37.

BJ McLeod

32.07

37

0

38.

JJ Yeley

32.45

38

0

39.

Joe Nemechek

33.60

40

1

40.

Austin Theriault

33.91

41

1

41.

Reed Sorenson

34.64

39

-2

42.

Timmy Hill

34.75

42

0

43.

Blake Jones

35.00

44

1

44.

Garrett Smithley

35.04

43

-1

45.

Joey Gase

35.31

45

0

46.

Quin Houff

36.00

46

0

47.

Spencer Boyd

36.67

48

1

48.

Josh Bilicki

36.80

47

-1

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.