A trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the racing capital of the world – never disappoints.
Sunday’s Cup Series race was chaotic at times, with three cautions in the final stage and a controversial overtime restart. But it ended with Tyler Reddick in victory lane for the second straight road course race.
Looking ahead, the series heads to Michigan Raceway next week for its annual trip to the Irish Hills.
So, who is the driver to beat after 22 races? Here’s our power rankings with just four races to go before the playoffs:
1. Chase Elliott
Last week: 1
Elliott’s streak of five straight top-two finishes ended when he was spun from second place in the final laps. He still recovered to finish 16th and extended his points lead to 125 over Ryan Blaney. The maximum amount of points you can score in a race is 60, so Elliott has cleared the field by over two full races.
2. Ross Chastain
Last week: 2
After being out of the picture all day, Chastain found himself near the front for overtime. Instead of trying to make the first corner, he simply drove straight and cut the course. He came out battling for the win and crossed the finish line second, but was given a 30-second time penalty due to his shortcut and finished 27th.
3. Kyle Larson
Last week: 3
Indy was not kind to the defending champ, as Larson started 22nd, never found the pace and had a violent crash when his brakes failed.
Larson should be confident heading to Michigan next week, where he has three wins. He also won at California in February, which is the most comparable track to Michigan.
4. Christopher Bell
Last week: 5
A poor restart and subsequent flat tire doomed Bell’s chance at victory, but it was encouraging for the Toyotas to run so well after their recent road course struggles. Bell recovered to finish 12th after leading 17 laps, his third straight race with double-digit laps led.
5. Ryan Blaney
Last week: 7
Blaney battled out front all day before he, like Elliott, became a turn one victim. He spun out, no caution was called and he finished 26th. On the bright side, Blaney moved up to second in the standings and there was a repeat winner, which retains his buffer on the playoff cut line.
6. Kyle Busch
Last week: 6
A cloud of uncertainty continues to follow Busch as long as he doesn’t have a contract for 2022. But on the track, Indy was a relatively quick outing for the No. 18. He finished 11th and scored 12 stage points. Still, Busch has gone seven straight races without a top-10 – his longest streak since he went eight straight races without a top-10 to begin his career in 2004-05.
7. Martin Truex Jr.
Last week: 4
With each passing race, it’s looking more likely that Truex will enter the playoffs without a victory. He finished 21st at Indy and wasn’t a factor in the outcome. If Truex fails to win before Daytona, it could create one of the most nerve-racking races of his Hall of Fame-worthy career.
8. Tyler Reddick
Last week: first four out
Do we have a new road course king? Reddick’s first two career wins have come in the last two road races, even after the recent announcement that he’s leaving Richard Childress Racing for 23XI Racing in 2024. Things will be awkward over the next 16 months as they work toward the inevitable breakup, but in the meantime, it looks like this team can compete for a championship.
9. Denny Hamlin
Last week: 8
One week after Hamlin’s Pocono win was stripped away, he delivered an uninspiring 14th-place run. The day started off even worse, with Hamlin spinning and missing corners all over the track. So, in that respect, finishing in the top-15 isn’t all that bad.
10. Joey Logano
Last week: 10
It’s tough to look past Logano’s five-wide, dive-bomb into turn one late in the race. His move triggered a sequence that took out multiple aforementioned frontrunners. But Logano left the Brickyard with a sixth-place finish, his best in nearly two months since he won at Gateway.
First four out: William Byron, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman