NASCAR Power Rankings: Chase Elliott retains No. 1 spot
Kevin Harvick’s solid win Sunday at Michigan International Speedway scrambled the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings and also created movement in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.
Harvick earned a spot on the playoff grid by finally ending a punishing winless streak that had reached 65 races. His team now will be fully engaged for the playoffs, and few will be surprised if he makes a strong run at the championship.
Chase Elliott finished 11th Sunday, an odd race day outside the top 10 for the former series champion. But his overall worksheet keeps him in the top spot in the NBC Sports rankings.
The Cup Series rolls on to Richmond Raceway Sunday (3 p.m. ET, USA Network).
NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings
1. Chase Elliott: Last week: No. 1) -- Two straight finishes outside the top 10? Is this a slump for a driver who had six straight races inside the top two? The Rankings don’t think so.
2. Kyle Larson (Last week: No. 4) -- A pit-road speeding penalty cost Larson Sunday, but he bounced back to finish a solid seventh, marking his eighth straight top 10 at Michigan.
3. Joey Logano (Last week: No. 6) -- Logano’s fourth-place run Sunday was his first top five in eight races.
4. Ryan Blaney (Last week: No. 7) -- Blaney, who seems to do everything but win, was fifth at MIS. He now is the lone driver on the playoff grid without a victory and will be dancing dangerously over the final three regular-season races if he can’t pick up a win.
5. Christopher Bell (Last week: No. 2) -- Bell’s strong run at Michigan soured with 40 laps to go when he and Ross Chastain crashed. Bell finished 26th.
6. Ross Chastain (Last week: No. 3) -- Racing on fresher tires, he and Christopher Bell had contact with 40 laps remaining, damaging both cars. Chastain finished 24th.
7. Kevin Harvick (Last week: No. 8) -- Remember him? Harvick had not won for 65 consecutive races, but he sparkled over the second half Sunday and won by 2.9 seconds over Bubba Wallace. Harvick suddenly changes from a pretender to a contender.
8. Tyler Reddick (Last week: No. 5) -- Engine problems parked Reddick after 110 laps Sunday. His 29th-place finish dropped him three spots in the rankings.
9. Denny Hamlin (Last week: unranked) -- Hamlin returns to the top 10 after leading 38 laps and finishing third at Michigan.
10. Bubba Wallace (Last week: unranked) -- A second place extended Wallace’s top-10 streak to four, his career high, and pushed him into the rankings.
Dropped out: Martin Truex Jr. (No. 9 last week), Kyle Busch (No. 10 last week).