Denny Hamlin keeps top spot in NASCAR Power Rankings after Talladega
Denny Hamlin remains in the top spot in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings after his eighth consecutive top-10 finish in a Talladega playoff race.
Chase Elliott makes a major move up the rankings while a new driver cracks the top 10 heading into Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).
NBC SPORTS NASCAR POWER RANKINGS
1. Denny Hamlin (Last Week: 1st) — He recovered from a speeding penalty and finished third. He has not finished worse than 10th in a Talladega playoff race since 2015. Hamlin is the highest-seeded driver without a win in the Round of 12. He has finished in the top five in four consecutive playoff races, including his Round of 16 win at Bristol.
2. William Byron (3) — A runner-up at Talladega was his second straight top-two finish of the playoffs. Byron already secured a spot in the next round with his Texas win. He continued his consistent postseason, which includes only one finish outside of the top 10, by scoring 18 stage points.
3. Kyle Larson (2) — He was collected in a crash coming to the finish line and placed 15th. Larson, who has been involved in a crash in every drafting style race this season, scored 12 stage points and ran inside the top 10 throughout the race. This moved him 15 points above the cutline heading to the Roval — where he won in 2021.
4. Chase Elliott (7) — He only has two finishes outside of the top 10 in the past eight races. He ran out of fuel at Watkins Glen and then finished 11th at Texas. Elliott added 13 stage points to the No. 9 entry’s total at Talladega and put it in position to move to the Round of 8 in the owner championship.
5. Chris Buescher (4) — He had an opportunity to deliver top-five finishes in every race at Daytona and Talladega this season. He finished 19th in what he called a disappointing day. Buescher only lost two points and remained 19 above the cutline. Next up is the Roval where he has two straight top-six finishes.
6. Brad Keselowski (5) — A push to the bumper of Carson Hocevar’s Chevrolet kicked off a wreck that ended Keselowski’s strong day. He qualified fifth and won stage 2. He finished 32nd and fell to two points above the cutline. He will have to hold off multiple drivers with road course wins to move on to the Round of 8.
7. Bubba Wallace (6) — He had an opportunity to gain points or contend for the win at a track where he has a previous win. Wallace finished 23rd after being one of multiple Toyota drivers that struggled to gain track position. Now he has to overcome a nine-point deficit at a road course — a track style that isn’t his strength — to move to the next round of the playoffs.
8. Christopher Bell (NR) — The 14th-place finish at Talladega was only Bell’s second finish outside of the top 10 during the playoffs. He drove a damaged race car during the final two stages after a crash involving Ross Chastain but still finished ahead of eight other playoff drivers. Bell remains 22 points above the cutline heading to a track where he is the defending winner.
9. Tyler Reddick (8) — He has not finished better than 15th in the past three playoff races after winning at Kansas. Reddick finished 16th at Talladega after missing out on stage points but moved to two points below the cutline as Wallace and Chastain both lost points. The three-time road course winner has an opportunity to reach the Round of 8 at the Roval.
10. Martin Truex Jr. (10) — He hasn’t finished inside of the top 10 since Watkins Glen in August. Truex finished 18th at Talladega but did something important for his championship hopes – he avoided wrecks and finished the race. This helped him lose only two playoff points. Truex is now 17 points above the cutline heading to a road course, a track style on which he has previous success.
Dropped out: Kyle Busch