Power Rankings: Martinsville win sends Chase Elliott to No. 1
For the third week in a row, there’s a change atop the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.
Chase Elliott takes over the No. 1 spot from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman after Elliott’s win in Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Martinsville. The victory advances Elliott to Sunday’s championship race at Phoenix (coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC). Elliott will be joined by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin in the Cup title race.
Here is this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings
1. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 5): Needing a win to advance to the Championship 4 round, Elliott delivered. He led 236 of 500 laps to score his second victory in the last four races. His reward is the No. 1 ranking and the chance to race for his first Cup title Sunday at Phoenix.
2. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): He had already secured a spot in the title race with his Kansas win two weeks ago. His third-place finish at Martinsville marked his third top-three finish in the last four races. He’s built good momentum heading into Phoenix.
3. Alex Bowman (Last week No. 1): His championship hopes ended at Martinsville. Still, his sixth-place finish is his ninth top-10 in the last 11 races. He placed sixth in both Martinsville race this season.
4. Ryan Blaney (Last week No. 6): He has finished seventh or better in each of the last four races and five of the last six. Placed second at Martinsville. He was runner-up there in both races this year.
5. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 2): Was running second when his car began to suffer from a loose wheel late in the race. That forced him to pit with 25 laps to go, causing him to finish 22nd. In his last nine races, Truex has five top 10s and four finishes of worse than 20th.
6. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 9): Rolls into Phoenix title race having finished sixth or better in each of the last three races. He’s also won the last two races (Richmond and New Hampshire) that used the same tire that will be used at Phoenix. He told his team “Why not us?” before the playoffs and has a chance for a second title.
7. Denny Hamlin (Last week No. 8): Headed to the title race for the second year in a row and the third time since the format debuted in 2014. In the four races since his Talladega win, he’s not finished better than ninth.
8. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 7): Got wrecked by a desperate Kevin Harvick on the last lap of Sunday’s race but still finished ninth. That gives him three consecutive top-10 finishes.
9. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 4): Wins nine races this year but struggles in the Round of 8 will keep him from racing for a title. He finished 17th at Martinsville. He’s finished better than 10th just once in the last six races.
10. Harrison Burton (Last week unranked): Wins first Xfinity race at Martinsville since 2006 and becomes the youngest series winner at the track, breaking a record held by his dad Jeff. Martinsville also was Harrison’s second win in a row.
Dropped out: Christopher Bell (10th last week)