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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Pocono II

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: July 29, 2019, 2:02 pm ET

The summer is a time of great contrast and variety.

The tracks included in the past 45 days include Sonoma Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Pocono Raceway. This week, Watkins Glen International will replace Sonoma – which in turn will be followed by four distinctly different tracks in the countdown to the playoffs.

That is fitting. To win the championship in NASCAR once meant drivers had to be the best-rounded athletes in all of competitive auto racing. The implementation of the playoff system has changed the dynamic somewhat, but to make the top 16 at the end of the first 26 races requires a wide array of skills.

With one road course, a restricted superspeedway, two similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, and two flat tracks, the current look-back period is missing only a short track – and some would classify New Hampshire as one of those. For that reason, this week’s top-10 drivers are a great representation of overall skill.   


1. Kyle Busch (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 21
FPR#: 6.84

When you have a car as strong as Busch had last week in Pocono, you can do your own thing. The problem with that is the weight of the field. If they do don’t follow your strategy, then you are buried in traffic. Busch finished only ninth last week after dominating and winning at Pocono in June – but he nevertheless scored high marks in Average Running Position and Driver Rating.

2. Denny Hamlin (last week: 7) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 14
FPR#: 7.58

With three consecutive top-fives and a legitimate shot at victory in back-to-back weeks, Hamlin may well be the strongest driver in the field. He is still overcoming some poor performances surrounding the last road course race – most notably a sub-25th-place finish at Daytona – but if he does not stumble, he might overtake Busch in the next couple of weeks as those modest results age out of the formula.

3. Kevin Harvick (last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 21
FPR#: 7.88

We believe that it’s time to make Harvick a place-and-hold driver in games where that is possible. Winning at New Hampshire galvanized the team – and while we would have been much more enthusiastic about a top-five at Pocono given his record there – he showed a lot more poise than for most of the season. Those are his first consecutive top-10s on an oval since Texas Motor Speedway early this spring.

4. Joey Logano (last week: 2) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 21
FPR#: 8.98

Logano has been lounging in second for quite a while. His drop to fourth in the Fantasy Power Rankings might actually signal a bad omen because with a 13th at Pocono, this is the third time in the past six races that he finished outside the top 10. Even if he stumbles at Watkins Glen, he probably won’t fall too far, however, because the next race to age out of the formula is Sonoma and he finished 23rd there after gambling on earning stage points early in the race.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 4) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 18
FPR#: 9.00

There are times when Truex looks like the same driver from 2018. Last week was one of those and his third-place finish at Pocono marked one of the rare times this year that he scored back-to-back top-10s on an oval. Before fantasy players go all in on the No. 19, they need to see more consistency. It will take at least another couple of weeks to determine that since the Glen is next up on the schedule. For the record, Truex has been strong at the Glen with a victory in 2017 and second-place last year.

6. William Byron (last week: 9) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 10
FPR#: 9.57

Byron is making a case for himself as the top driver at Hendrick Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson is distracted by his winless streak, Chase Elliott cannot find a way to be forgiven by fickle Fate, and Alex Bowman has only one top-10 in the last six weeks. Byron has three top-10s in that same span including a runner-up finish at Daytona and a fourth at Pocono. A few weeks ago Rick Hendrick had all of his drivers in the top 10; this week Byron stands alone.

7. Erik Jones (last week: 12) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 9.97

NASCAR is all about timing. Jones is peaking at the right time to make the playoffs. With five races remaining in the regular season, at least two drivers will make the playoffs based on points. Jones is not safe, but he is starting to build a cushion (currently 39 points) over the cutline. Relatively safe…assuming that one of the drivers below 16th in the standings does not win at the Glen. Even so, the team gambled last week on fuel and earned their third consecutive top-three.

8. Ryan Blaney (last week: 5) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 13
FPR#: 10.33

Blaney scored a top-10 last week at Pocono, but he was not a dominant driver by any stretch of the imagination. Getting involved in a mid-race accident with Daniel Suarez caused the team to make repairs and languish mid-pack for much of the race, but they surged at the right time. Blaney now has eight results of 13th or better in his last nine races with his only dissenting finish coming on the wild card of Daytona.

9. Kyle Larson (last week: 11) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 7
FPR#: 11.15

Larson has had fast backup cars recently. He drove to the front at New Hampshire and Pocono both, but after his accident in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 we lost a lot of confidence in his ability to run an error-free race. That incident was in the back of his mind as well in the closing laps because he backed off a little in the final run to the checkers. That moment of caution cost him a shot at the win.

10. Aric Almirola (last week: 10)
Weeks in the top 10: 13
FPR#: 11.16

Almirola maintained his spot in the top 10 through consistency. He was not a great value last week, but he didn’t cost fantasy owners a lot of points either with his 12th-place finish. That is the fifth time in the last six races that he scored a top-15 with his other effort landing 16th.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Kurt Busch (last week: 6) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 13
FPR#: 11.78

Emotions run hot in a NASCAR race at this time of year. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did not care that Busch had been pushed up the track by another car last week. All he knew is that he got pinched into the wall and his retaliation on the No. 1 was perhaps inevitable. It knocked Busch out of the Fantasy Power Rankings top 10, however, as this is the second consecutive week that he finished outside the top 15.

13. Alex Bowman (last week: 8) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 10
FPR#: 12.78

Consistency will only get you so far. As with Kurt Busch and Almirola, Bowman has been among the leaders because he rarely stumbles. The problem with consistency is those drivers cling to their distinction by a fingernail. A 20th-place run last week was the second time in the past six races that Bowman struggled. That is too often to be considered a marquee driver.

Big Mover outside the Top 10

17. Clint Bowyer (last week: 22) +5
Weeks in the top 5
FPR#: 16.06

Bowyer did not score a top-10 last week in Pocono, but he came close in 11th. It was an adventurous race – as have been most of his races in the past two months – but this week he largely stayed out of trouble. Bowyer will undoubtedly be happy to have avoided making the highlight reel in the Gander RV 400.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kyle Busch

6.84

1

0

2.

Denny Hamlin

7.58

7

5

3.

Kevin Harvick

7.88

3

0

4.

Joey Logano

8.98

2

-2

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

9.00

4

-1

6.

William Byron

9.57

9

3

7.

Erik Jones

9.97

12

5

8.

Ryan Blaney

10.33

5

-3

9.

Kyle Larson

11.15

11

2

10.

Aric Almirola

11.16

10

0

 

11.

Kurt Busch

11.78

6

-5

12.

Jimmie Johnson

12.58

14

2

13.

Alex Bowman

12.78

8

-5

14.

Brad Keselowski

13.64

13

-1

15.

Ryan Newman

13.97

15

0

16.

Matt DiBenedetto

15.52

19

3

17.

Clint Bowyer

16.06

22

5

18.

Chris Buescher

16.25

16

-2

19.

Paul Menard

16.43

17

-2

20.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.11

21

1

21.

Chase Elliott

18.40

18

-3

22.

Austin Dillon

19.11

23

1

23.

Daniel Suarez

19.15

20

-3

24.

Daniel Hemric

21.03

24

0

25.

Michael McDowell

22.28

25

0

26.

Bubba Wallace

22.85

26

0

27.

Ty Dillon

25.42

27

0

28.

Matt Tifft

26.71

29

1

29.

Justin Haley

26.80

30

1

30.

David Ragan

27.42

31

1

31.

Ryan Preece

27.52

28

-3

32.

Joey Gase

27.67

32

0

33.

Brendan Gaughan

28.00

33

0

34.

Parker Kligerman

28.50

36

2

35.

Landon Cassill

28.55

35

0

36.

Corey LaJoie

28.63

34

-2

37.

Bayley Currey

30.09

37

0

38.

Ross Chastain

30.42

38

0

39.

JJ Yeley

30.80

40

1

40.

Andy Seuss

31.40

41

1

41.

Reed Sorenson

32.14

42

1

42.

Cody Ware

32.50

43

1

43.

Josh Bilicki

34.40

44

1

44.

Quin Houff

34.76

45

1

45.

BJ McLeod

34.90

46

1

46.

Austin Theriault

35.50

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.