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NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin moves into first

Jeff Burton details why Chase Briscoe "has been a hero" for Stewart-Haas Racing regardless of whether or not he moves on from the Round of 8 in the playoffs and advances to the Championship 4 at Phoenix.

The top spot in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings has become like the ugliest horse on the merry-go-round. No one wants to climb on board.

Joey Logano is the latest to depart. He was No. 1 last week but had a less-than-spectacular day at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, finishing 18th. He’s already locked into the championship round at Phoenix, of course, so he didn’t leave Homestead thoroughly miserable, but he does fall from the lead in the NBC Power Rankings.

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Rising to No. 1 is Denny Hamlin, who was seventh Sunday and has had seven top-10 runs in the past eight races. He’s five points below the playoff cutline entering Martinsville this weekend.

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Denny Hamlin (No. 2 last week) -- Despite whacking the wall twice, Hamlin came home seventh at Homestead. He’s dancing along the cutline heading with Martinsville Speedway, where he has won five times, next on the list.

2. Ross Chastain (No. 4 last week) -- Chastain has the lead among the seven playoff drivers still looking to make the final four at Phoenix (Joey Logano nailed down a spot with his win at Las Vegas). Chastain has finished second two weeks in a row and is plus-19 to the cutline.

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3. Joey Logano (No. 1 last week) -- Logano can be forgiven for maybe resting a bit on his laurels at Homestead. But he failed to lead a lap and finished 18th. These are numbers that don’t impress the Power Rankings.

4. Chase Elliott (No. 3 last week) -- The former Power Rankings leader had another mediocre race at Homestead, finishing 14th and failing to lead a lap. He’s plus-11 to the cutline.

5. Kyle Larson (No. 8 last week) -- Larson jumps three spots to fifth after a splendid run at Homestead, where he led 199 laps and won relatively easily. He’s no longer in the playoffs, but he remains a force.

6. Christopher Bell (No. 7 last week) -- Bell, still trying to recover from a tough day at Las Vegas two weeks ago, ran up front at Homestead and finished 11th. He faces a climb to make the Phoenix four.

7. Ryan Blaney (No. 6 last week) -- Blaney keeps hanging on despite various troubles. He has three consecutive finishes of 17th or worse but retains a shot at the final four.

8. Chase Briscoe (No. 5 last week) -- A meeting with the wall ended Briscoe’s race early Sunday. That last-place run puts him in trouble rolling into Martinsville this weekend.

9. William Byron (No. 9 last week) -- Byron won the pole at Homestead and led 32 laps but couldn’t muster a top-10 finish (he was 12th).

10. Martin Truex Jr. (unranked last week) -- Truex returns to the rankings with a sixth-place run at Homestead. He led 28 laps and had a shot at his first seasonal win.

Dropped out: Tyler Reddick (No. 10 last week).