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NBC Sports Power Rankings: Martin Truex Jr. roars to top spot

The NASCAR America crew looks back at Martin Truex Jr.'s playoffs win at Richmond and discuss how he's set himself up for success as the playoffs continue.

Many people are climbing aboard the Martin Truex Jr. express and the NBC Sports NASCAR writers are no exception, unanimously choosing the Mayetta, New Jersey native for the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings.

Truex, who tied for second in last week’s rankings, earned all 40 points this week to knock Kevin Harvick off the top of the hill after a two-week reign. Harvick drops to a tie for fourth this week.

Making the biggest jumps in the rankings were Denny Hamlin (from eighth to tied for second) and Kyle Busch (10th to tied for fourth).

Suffering the biggest drop was Chase Elliott, who went from fifth last week to out of the rankings this week.

Here is how this week’s rankings look:

1. Martin Truex Jr. (40 points): The idea that he could win the first four playoff races doesn’t seem outlandish. Last week: Second (tied).

(tie) 2. Denny Hamlin (29 points): Had his usual strong run (finished third) at his home track, but a win would have been better. Now has eight top 10s in the last 10 races. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 2. Brad Keselowski (29 points): Led 89 laps but just didn’t have as strong a car to challenge for the win as Truex or Kyle Busch had. Last week: Second (tied).

(tie) 4. Kyle Busch (26 points): Bounced back from incident-filled playoff opener in Las Vegas to lead race-high 202 laps at Richmond – but still had to settle for second place. Last week: 10th.

(tie) 4. Kevin Harvick (26 points): Consistency has become his middle name. Seventh-place finish marked his eighth top 10 in the last nine races. Last week: First.

6. Kyle Larson (23 points): The good news is his sixth-place finish at Richmond was his seventh top 10 in the last eight races. But the bad news is he still keeps coming up short for a win (hasn’t won in last 74 starts). Last week: Fourth.

7. Ryan Newman (18 points): Keep an eye on this team, it could be a big surprise. As he noted in a tweet after his fifth-place finish at Richmond: “They knew we were there and hungry.” Last week: Unranked.

8. Christopher Bell (10 points): With a Cup deal now firmly in his back pocket, Bell has nothing else to think or worry about other than winning the Xfinity championship. Last week. Unranked.

9. Clint Bowyer (7 points): Has become one of the better road racers on the circuit. Needs another strong run on the Roval (finished third last year) if he hopes to advance to the second round of the playoffs. He head to Charlotte four points below the cut line. Last week: Unranked.

10. Joey Logano (4 points): That he managed an 11th stands out after his struggles at Richmond. Last week: Sixth.

Others receiving votes: Erik Jones (3 points), Jimmie Johnson (2 points), Bubba Wallace (1 point), Chase Elliott (1 point), Cole Custer (1 point).