RACING

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson edges closer to top spot after strong run at Road America

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1 Chase Elliot — Chase Elliott begins to close the gap on teammate Hendrick William Byron for the most laps led this season. Elliott now has 549 laps in the lead after Road America, which only tops Byron’s total by 21 laps. 2 Ross Chestnut — The element of surprise has all but disappeared when it comes to where Ross Chastain is running. He now has his third top-five streak of the season after finishing fourth at Road America. 3 Kyle Larson Who says Kyle Larson doesn’t have championship form? With a third-place finish at Road America, Larson now has eight top-five finishes this year, which ranks second behind Ross Chastain. 4 ryan blaney With 13 different drivers having now won, the best Ryan Blaney can do without a win is to top up his points tally as much as possible. He did just that at Road America, winning a stage before finishing 11th. 5 Kyle Busch There’s no getting around it: Sunday was a terrible race for Kyle Busch. After changing an engine, Busch spun, had pit road penalties and was never a factor as he finished a meager 29th. 6 Martin Truex Jr. Although he moved up three spots in the power rankings, Martin Truex Jr. didn’t turn him on at Road America, per se. But he paved the way for JGR, breaking into the top 10 late before fading to 13th on the finish. seven Christopher Bell — Christopher Bell was better than 18th, but poor pit work on his last stop of the day prevented him from getting a finish more indicative of where he ran. Bell is now the last driver above the cut-off line for points, which intensifies the pressure for him to claim his second Cup victory. 8 Kevin Harvick The good news is that Kevin Harvick was able to finish 10th at Road America. The bad news is that he’s looking outside the playoff line, which means now would be a very, very good time to end his winless streak. 9 Austin Cindric How about three consecutive top-10 finishes for Austin Cindric? Cindric’s five top 10s are more than several recent Rookie of the Year winners, including William Byron (2018), Daniel Hemric (2019) and Chase Briscoe (2021) ten Denny Hamlin Strange, but true: a 17th-place finish marked Denny Hamlin’s best finish on a road course all season. He also led a lap on a cycle of green-flag pitfalls for his troubles. 11 Daniel Suarez With his fourth top five of the season, Daniel Suarez equaled his career record for top five he set in 2019 while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. That mark is set to fall soon as Suarez continues to build a career year. 12 Joey Logan Psycho! After locking his brakes and running into Bubba Wallace, Logano apparently expected Wallace to get his revenge so badly that he ended up going off the rails. He will finish 27th. 13 William Byron Where the hell is William Byron? Well, at Road America he was 16th – a bit off where he was in the spring, including when he won the first race of the year in Atlanta. 14 Alex Bowman Alex Bowman recovered well from his DNF in Nashville, finishing 12th at Road America. It looks like the No. 24 and No. 48 teams are just a touch away from where Hendrick’s No. 5 and No. 9 teams are right now. 15 Tyler Red Dick Last week, these humble power rankings said Tyler Reddick had gone “freezing.” Now he’s a Cup Series winner, in the playoffs, and the narrative has changed in no time. Just win, baby. 16 Michael McDowell Michael McDowell continued one of the best streaks of his entire Cup career with an eighth-place finish at Road America. After making the playoffs by winning the Daytona 500 in 2021, it’s going to be fascinating to see if McDowell can really play the spoilers this year. 17 Kurt Busch Don’t get me wrong, 23XI Racing’s road course program is quite a departure from what their speedway program has been. After finishing second in Nashville, Kurt Busch remained anonymous all day at Road America and finished 23rd. 18 Chasing Briscoe — Chase Briscoe narrowly missed pole at Road America and then had a strong day where he won a stage before finishing 14th. A nice recovery from Nashville and Briscoe’s third top 15 in the last five races. 19 Chris Buescher Maybe Mid-Ohio’s win in the Xfinity Series a long time ago should have told us that Chris Buescher is a good road racer. Buescher’s sixth place finish at Road America was his third top 10 in the last four road races. 20 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s 19th place finish marked his second straight top 20 finish. Having them in his pocket is good, but finishing the job in Atlanta – where Stenhouse led many laps before cutting a tire – would be great for him and his team. 21 Austin Dillon The final laps at Road America were great for RCR as a company, but a disaster for Austin Dillon. A brake failure relegated him to a 31st-place finish, putting him well behind the playoff cut-off line. 22 Erik Jones Given that this weekend was Richard Petty’s 85th birthday, Erik Jones was surely looking for a good race to treat his car owner. He finished 26th instead – maybe it’s the thought that counts? 23 Aric Almirola Crossing the cut line was bad news for Aric Almirola. With Tyler Reddick winning and a 28th-place finish for Almirola, he is now 47 points from the cut line. 24 Justin Haley Although Justin Haley finished 24th, Road America scored a pretty good points day for him and his team. Haley finished ninth in Stage 1 and sixth in Stage 2 to earn extra points. 25 Ty Dillon With 184 Cup starts to date, Ty Dillon now has the most experience of any active driver who has not won a Cup race. For now, he’ll settle for another top 20 finish at Road America. 26 Cole Custer Cole Custer was heading for a third-place finish in the Xfinity Series race when he suffered brake failure and crashed heavily. On Sunday, nothing went wrong and he was able to clinch his first top 15 since Dover. Maybe he wiped out all the bad luck on Saturday? 27 Bubba Wallace Bubba Wallace must be chomping at the bit to get back to Atlanta. Wallace nearly won there in March, and anything from a win to a top-five finish would help turn his summer and his season around in the blink of an eye. 28 Harrison Burton — Harrison Burton scored some stage points at Road America, then led a lap in the final round of green-flag pit stops. It was the first lap Burton had led in the Cup since leading three at the Daytona 500. 29 Brad Keselowski If there’s anything that can reassure Brad Keselowski after a crash and a 33rd-place finish, it’s the fact that of the top five Cup winners this year, four of them – Cindric, Briscoe, Chastain and Reddick – all drove for Brad Keselowski Racing in the Truck Series. That’s the mark of a good owner. 30 Todd Gilliland — Todd Gilliland pulled off a pretty impressive save in the race for position with Kevin Harvick at Road America. When Kevin Harvick ran his first road race in June 2001, Gilliland was a year and a month old.

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