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Kevin Harvick
AP
Power Rankings

Power Rankings After: Indy

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: July 9, 2020, 1:51 pm ET

Last week underscored the thrill of gambling. At +6600 (66/1) to win outright with an implied probability of 1.5%, Matt Kenseth was a longshot who gave the favorite Kevin Harvick a lot to be worried about. While he came up short, Kenseth still banked a lot of cash for anyone who wagered on him to finish among the top three with +1600 odds.

The Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway also underscored the agony of defeat. With the checkered flag in sight, Denny Hamlin (+500) lost a tire and slammed the wall hard. He was racing for his second win in as many weeks.

Most of last week’s race was a battle between Harvick and Hamlin. The same thing was true the weekend previous on another 2.5-mile flat track in the Pocono Mountains. And the fact that three consecutive races were run on the same track type allowed both the drivers and gamblers to accumulate a great set of notes. The same will be true over the coming three weeks as NASCAR visits 1.5-mile doglegged ovals in consecutive weeks in Kentucky, Texas, and Kansas


1. Kevin Harvick (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Weeks as #1: 6
Power Average: 7.77

Harvick’s car rolled off the hauler well-prepared at Pocono and he took full advantage. In three consecutive races on flat 2.5-mile tracks, he won twice and finished second in the third event. His outright odds to win the Pocono Organics 325 were +650 and his dominant performance on that track lowered him to +400 for the Big Machine 400. Given his momentum, he was a safe pick.

2. Chase Elliott (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 15
Weeks as #1: 5
Power Average: 8.56

The Power Average formula tracks strength during a race in addition to ultimate finishing results. Last week Elliott was awarded the second-best Driver Rating behind Harvick because of a consistently strong run that kept him among the top five for most of the day. While his mid-race strength must be factored into future handicaps, it is not the only consideration. Crew chief Alan Gustafson is currently out of sync in regard to late-race strategy calls and last week’s decision to pit late in the race cost Elliott a top-10 finish. Elliott is a good bet overall, but since it’s hard to know just when the final caution will wave, he comes at a risk.

3. Ryan Blaney (last week: 5) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Weeks as #1: 2
FPR#: 7.42

Blaney’s Talladega win has made him the most productive over the past 45 days. At +1200, he helped refill betters’ coffers, but that is difficult race to predict and it is likely that most gamblers spread their money equally over a wide range of drivers. Since winning at ‘Dega, Blaney has slipped back through the field with a 12th and 22nd at Pocono. Last week, he was one of a dozen drivers who retired with crash damage, which caused him to fall another 10 spots down the roster in 32nd.

4. Brad Keselowski (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Power Average: 8.85

Since the return to action at Darlington, Keselowski has been one of the hottest drivers in the Cup series. His victory in the Coke 600 and again at Bristol two weeks later locked him into the playoffs. Equally important, they are part of eight top-10s in the past 12 races. He finished worse than 13th only once in that span. So far this year, he has a top-10 percentage of 68.8%, which is second only to Harvick’s 81.3%.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 2) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 11
Power Average: 10.49

It would be safe to assume that Indy is not one of Truex’s favorite tracks. He had only one good lap last week before a spark plug came loose. The loss of horsepower caused him to drop through the pack like a tungsten anchor was attached to the back bumper of his Toyota. Damage from a pit road accident sent the team home 38th, which was his fourth consecutive sub-25th-place result at Indy. He will be happy to get to the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway this week.

6. Jimmie Johnson (last week: 11) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 9
Power Average: 11.16

Last week Johnson revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday afternoon. Per NASCAR’s policy he was required to sit out the race and could not return until he had two negative tests that were more than 24 hours apart. That was the first time in Johnson’s career (666 races) that he ever missed an event. Wednesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced Johnson tested negative on Monday and Tuesday – and that he was cleared by his physician to return. Johnson would have been a good value last week at Indy; he’ll be even more determined to win this week at Kentucky.

7. Denny Hamlin (last week: 6) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Weeks as #1: 1
Power Average: 11.31

Hamlin was the 12th and final driver to experience crash damage last week. He was also the most notable because he was leading the race at the time with laps quickly winding down. That accident snapped a four-race streak of top-fives that saw him win at Homestead (with +1000 odds) and Pocono (+800). Hamlin has been strong but erratic at Kentucky with top-fives in alternating races for the past six years. The other three races in that span ended 15th or worse. If the pattern holds, he is due to finish poorly this week after scoring a fifth in 2019.

8. Joey Logano (last week: 8)
Weeks in the top 10: 15
Power Average: 12.06

Logano came out of the gates strong with two wins in the first four races of the season, but he’s been much too erratic to be a good bet. Since the return to action, he has only one top-five and a handful of top-10s to his credit. One of these was a 10th last week, which he would not have earned if Matt DiBenedetto and Austin Dillon had not crashed while battling among the leaders on the last lap. One danger of winning early in the season is that teams are prone to gambling on setups. Wait until this team establishes momentum before wagering on them.

9. Kyle Busch (last week: 10) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 9
Power Average: 12.17

Busch is one of the odds makers’ favorites every week. One would have to flip a long way back through the books to find a time when he was not ranked among the top five. Over the long haul that he has made betters a lot of money. But, for him to still be winless 16 races into the season is a remarkable turn of fortune. Switch your strategy to cover top-fives until NASCAR returns to regular weekend schedules with practice and qualification.

10. Kurt Busch (last week: 7) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 11
Power Average: 10.58

Busch remains one of the most consistent drivers in the field. Since Week 3 at Auto Club, he has finished no worse than 18th in 14 races with an average finish of 9.4. Nine of his efforts landed in the top 10 with a season-best of third twice at Auto Club and Darlington. He’s a good bet to cover the top 10 spread nearly 60 percent of the time.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400, Indy: Kevin Harvick (+400)
Pocono 350, Pocono: Denny Hamlin (+800)
Pocono Organics 325, Pocono: Kevin Harvick (+650)
Geico 500, Talladega: Ryan Blaney (+1200)
Dixie Vodka 400, Homestead: Denny Hamlin (+1000)
Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, Martinsville: Martin Truex Jr.(+550)
QuikTrip 500, Atlanta: Kevin Harvick (+500)
Supermarkets Heroes 500, Bristol: Brad Keselowski (+1000)
Alsco Uniforms 500k, Charlotte: Chase Elliott (+550)
Coke 600, Charlotte: Brad Keselowski (+1000)

 

Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Avg.
Odds Rank

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kevin Harvick

7.77

3.27

1

0

2.

Chase Elliott

8.56

3.85

3

1

3.

Ryan Blaney

8.82

7.42

5

2

4.

Brad Keselowski

8.85

4.46

4

0

5.

Martin Truex Jr./p>

10.49

3.96

2

-3

6.

Jimmie Johnson

11.16

10.72

11

5

7.

Denny Hamlin

11.31

4.50

6

-1

8.

Joey Logano

12.06

5.23

8

0

9.

Kyle Busch

12.17

2.31

10

1

10.

Kurt Busch

12.57

10.58

7

-3

 

11.

William Byron

13.86

12.08

13

2

12.

Alex Bowman

14.26

9.12

9

-3

13.

Matt DiBenedetto

14.87

17.00

15

2

14.

Aric Almirola

15.24

14.77

14

0

15.

Erik Jones

15.61

12.76

12

-3

16.

Clint Bowyer

16.32

12.31

16

0

17.

Austin Dillon

17.15

18.93

18

1

18.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr./p>

17.28

19.19

19

1

19.

Tyler Reddick

17.53

16.00

17

-2

20.

Christopher Bell

17.88

20.69

21

1

21.

Chris Buescher

18.84

22.42

22

1

22.

Bubba Wallace

19.07

22.62

24

2

23.

Matt Kenseth

19.81

16.44

23

0

24.

JH Nemechek

20.26

24.92

25

1

25.

Ryan Newman

21.13

19.58

20

-5

26.

Michael McDowell

21.15

27.56

27

1

27.

Cole Custer

22.09

23.35

30

3

28.

Brendan Gaughan

22.14

26.00

26

-2

29.

Ross Chastain

22.68

NM

29

0

30.

Ryan Preece

23.48

26.50

28

-2

31.

Corey LaJoie

25.76

29.35

31

0

32.

Ty Dillon

26.26

26.48

32

0

33.

Daniel Suarez

26.86

28.15

33

0

34.

Gray Gaulding

31.30

30.89

34

0

35.

Timmy Hill

32.02

30.08

36

1

36.

Brennan Poole

32.33

30.31

35

-1

37.

BJ McLeod

32.38

30.15

39

2

38.

JJ Yeley

32.82

30.24

37

-1

39.

Quin Houff

32.95

30.38

38

-1

40.

Josh Bilicki

33.66

29.88

40

0

41.

Garrett Smithley

34.56

29.50

43

2

42.

Joey Gase

36.05

30.15

45

3

43.

Reed Sorenson

36.79

29.38

41

-2

 

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.