Austin Dillon
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Homestead

Updated On: March 2, 2021, 9:10 pm ET

The first three races of 2021 have been contested on three distinctly different types of courses. There have been three dark horse winners in those three races. Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell, and William Byron all beat long odds of +3000 (30/1) or greater at PointsBet Sportsbook to take the checkers.

The season opened on the aero-restricted superspeedway in Daytona, Florida, stayed at that track to run the road course configuration, and then headed south to Homestead-Miami Speedway for 267 laps on the 1.5-mile track. This week the NASCAR Cup series heads west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a second race on the 1.5-milers.

Following Vegas, the next two events will be run on the short, flat track of Phoenix Raceway and another 1.5-miler in Atlanta for the first of two trips to Georgia. And while Phoenix is an outlier, four races on unrestricted ovals will begin to separate the field before NASCAR visits three consecutive short tracks.


The Power Rankings is intended to provide an overview of the season to date, however; so three different track types have been much less impactful than surprisingly strong runs by a handful of drivers. McDowell, Bell and Byron have been joined at the front of the pack by Tyler Reddick and Ryan Newman at Homestead, Ryan Preece and AJ Allmendinger on the road course and the usual assorted cast of lucky ducks in the Daytona 500.  

That is part of the reason why many of this week’s top contenders have seemingly struggled at times during the first three weeks and yet are still considered the favorites among oddsmakers.

Top 10

1. Chase Elliott (last week: 3) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 4
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 6.80
We didn’t expect Elliott to contend for the win last week despite the fact that he was one of the oddsmakers’ favorites and he didn’t come close to being a good value on that 1.5-mile track. Then again, we thought he would do better than 14th. He ran with the leaders for most of the first two races and was just strong enough to outpace the next few drivers on this list last week. Next week’s Pennzoil 400 is going to be critical in establishing his early-season momentum.

2. Denny Hamlin (last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 4
Power Average: 7.08
Hamlin’s 2020 win in the Dixie Vodka 400 was his only top-five in the last seven years at Homestead. He didn’t deserve to be a favorite, but like Elliott we thought he would contend for a top-10. He finished just outside that mark in 11th, which is now his ninth consecutive result of 12th or better there. He hasn’t been much stronger at Vegas with only two top-fives in his last 16 attempts.

3. Joey Logano (last week: 1) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 4
Weeks as #1: 1
Power Average: 7.72
There were not huge extenuating circumstances last week that caused the top three in the 2021 Power Rankings to all finish outside the top 10 in the Dixie Vodka 400. The question now shifts to whether Homestead was an anomaly or the beginning of a trend. Logano will be the canary in the mine because he has two wins and six top-10s in his last 10 Vegas starts. He is the defending winner of this race.

4. Kevin Harvick (last week: 5) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 4
Power Average: 8.52
Harvick is one of only two drivers with a sweep of the top 10 in the first three races along with McDowell. Still, he has not shown the dominant form we have come to associate with the perennial championship contender, but dating back to last fall’s season finale in Phoenix, he has four consecutive results of seventh or better. He swept the top five at Vegas in 2019, but last year scored an eighth and 10th in their two races.

5. Kyle Larson (last week: 7) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Power Average: 8.72
Larson is steadily moving up the grid and bettors should not be surprised if he marches all the way to the top in the next few events. By the time the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first dirt track race of the Modern Era, he will be well-established in the No. 5 and fully in sync with his team. Better yet, he might have a win under his belt.

6. Austin Dillon (last week: 8) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Power Average: 10.50
Dillon did not have the 2020 stats to qualify him among the top 10 in the Power Rankings before the Daytona 500, but he was part of the list afterwards. That’s not surprising given his strength on aero-restricted superspeedways. He has hung in and remained on the list since and that was not entirely expected. This week he even moved up a couple of positions with a solid 12th-place run in the Dixie Vodka 400. Keep an eye on him at Vegas and if he challenges for a top 10 there, be prepared to consider him as a Prop Bet at Atlanta.  

7. Brad Keselowski (last week: 11) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Power Average: 11.08
Keselowski is an example of the cream beginning to rise. His 16th-place finish at Homestead was not overly impressive on its face, but Team Penske is strong enough to contend for victories on any given week. Kez spent enough time with the leaders last week to record the fifth-best Average Running Position of 8.07. He might not bet quite as strong in Nevada, however, because he had the 10th- and 12th-best Running Positions in their two races last year.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 15) +7
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Power Average: 11.10
We predicted Truex would win last week and he finished in the top three. Given the up-and-down nature of the Dixie Vodka 400, that’s about as close as anyone came to placing a favorite. Now that he is on a series of tracks where he can control his destiny, Truex should remain among the top contenders. Truex has seven top-fives including two wins in his last nine Vegas races.

9. Christopher Bell (last week: 4) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Power Average: 12.00
Bell is still riding high from his Daytona road course win. His momentum should have carried him much further up the grid than 20th in the Dixie Vodka 400 especially in light of the fact that he was eighth last spring at Homestead. He will probably fall out of the top-10 this week because he failed to record a top-20 in either 2020 Vegas race, but a single win is all it has taken to make the playoffs since NASCAR instituted this knockout-style system, so he should be comfortable in experimenting with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

10. Kyle Busch (last week: 6) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 4                           
Power Average: 12.18
Busch eked out a top-10 last week and barely maintains his position among the top 10. That is his best result of 2020 – and quite frankly we expected more from him after a late-season victory last fall. It is not time to place an outright bet to win on him until he contends for the victory on an unrestricted, intermediate speedway.

Dropped from the Top 10

12. Michael McDowell (last week: 9) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 1
Power Average: 12.75
McDowell is taking his role as a frontrunner seriously. He’s probably locked into the playoffs with the Daytona 500 win unless there are more than 16 unique winners and he is dedicated to running well on every type of track. He has a sweep of the top 10 on three distinct courses. If you find reasonable odds for a prop bet for McDowell to finish in the top 10, take it.

19. Ryan Preece (last week: 10) -9
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Power Average: 16.25
Preece made the top 10 after the Daytona 500 and kept his position with a ninth-place finish on the road course. JTG-Daugherty Racing did not have the strategy to contend again on the 1.5-miler as both Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished outside the top 10. Don’t expect anything to change next week in Vegas.

Big Movers Outside the top 10

11. Kurt Busch (last week: 16) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 1
Power Average: 12.67
Busch came close to cracking the top 10 last week with his second consecutive top-10. An eighth-place finish was supported with an Average Running Position of 7.48, which was fourth-best in the field. He had just a little too much ground to make up after being 16th following the Daytona road course. Busch can be uneven, but if he has a solid showing in the Pennzoil 400, he could pass his brother for the final slot.

22. Bubba Wallace (last week: 18) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 1
Power Average: 18.86
There is still a lot of potential in the 23XI Team, but the hype of their Daytona 500 run is gone. Wallace will have to claw his way up from a spot outside the top 20 to be referenced as a favorite again and there is a lot of stout competition above him on the chart.

24. Ryan Newman (last week: 32) +8
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Power Average: 20.40
Last week was the first time in 36 races that Newman scored a top-10 on a track other than an aero-restricted superspeedway. His most recent top-10 on an unrestricted track previous was seventh in the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead, so this is a track where he tends to excel. That same season, he finished 10th in the fall Vegas race, which is next up on the schedule.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Dixie Vodka 400, Homestead: William Byron (+3000)
O’Reilly 253, Daytona road course: Christopher Bell (+6000)
Daytona 500, Daytona oval: Michael McDowell (+6600)

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Power Average, Last 45 Days

This Week

Driver

Power Avg.

Last Week

Difference

1.

Chase Elliott

6.80

3

2

2.

Denny Hamlin

7.08

2

0

3.

Joey Logano

7.72

1

-2

4.

Kevin Harvick

8.52

5

1

5.

Kyle Larson

8.72

7

2

6.

Austin Dillon

10.50

8

2

7.

Brad Keselowski

11.08

11

4

8.

Martin Truex Jr.

11.10

15

7

9.

Christopher Bell

12.00

4

-5

10.

Kyle Busch

12.18

6

-4

 

11.

Kurt Busch

12.67

16

5

12.

Michael McDowell

12.75

9

-3

13.

AJ Allmendinger

13.38

12

-1

14.

Austin Cindric

14.11

14

0

15.

Cole Custer

15.77

13

-2

16.

Alex Bowman

15.82

22

6

17.

Chris Buescher

15.87

19

2

18.

William Byron

16.00

26

8

19.

Ryan Preece

16.25

10

-9

20.

Jamie McMurray

17.13

17

-3

21.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.85

21

0

22.

Bubba Wallace

18.86

18

-4

23.

Ross Chastain

20.35

20

-3

24.

Ryan Newman

20.40

32

8

25.

Ryan Blaney

21.24

25

0

26.

Aric Almirola

22.70

24

-2

27.

Tyler Reddick

23.50

36

9

28.

Daniel Suarez

23.74

27

-1

29.

Erik Jones

24.05

28

-1

30.

David Ragan

24.14

29

-1

31.

Kaz Grala

24.43

30

-1

32.

Ty Dillon

25.25

31

-1

33.

Matt DiBenedetto

25.35

37

4

34.

Corey LaJoie

25.42

23

-11

35.

Joey Gase

25.88

35

0

36.

Chase Briscoe

26.05

33

-3

37.

Anthony Alfredo

30.16

40

3

38.

BJ McLeod

30.62

34

-4

39.

Cody Ware

31.53

38

-1

40.

Justin Haley

31.83

43

3

41.

Garrett Smithley

32.42

42

1

42.

Josh Bilicki

33.61

41

-1

43.

James Davison

33.75

39

-4

44.

Quin Houff

35.11

44

0

45.

Derrike Cope

36.29

46

1

46.

Timmy Hill

36.38

45

-1

47.

Scott Heckert

37.17

47

0

 

POWER RANKING AFTER DAYTONA ROAD

BEAVER’S BEST BETS FOR DIXIE VODKA 400

BEST BETS FOR Joey Logano


Source URL: https://www.nbcsports.com/edge/article/power-rankings/power-ranking-after-homestead