NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings after Chicago

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series raced in Joliet, Illinois on Sunday for the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. The overall race was one of the best of the 2018 season and the finish was one of the best in at least this decade. Though all four of the big four made an appearance up front, some others also found their way through the field during the race.

Kyle Busch came home with the victory after he and Kyle Larson battled it out on the last lap. The real winners, though, were the fans who stuck it out through the extreme heat to witness a true masterpiece at Chicagoland.

Which drivers survived the extreme heat the best to remain inside our power rankings? Which drivers stepped it up to put themselves in the power rankings and which drivers fell out? Read below to find out.

1. Kyle Busch (+2)

Kyle Busch takes the top spot in power rankings because he took a car that was plowing earlier in the race and won with it, though it didn’t come easy. In fact, he failed to finish inside the top 10 in both stages of the race. To then come at the end of the race and absolutely dominate the final 59 laps, that’s impressive on both the team and driver’s side.

2. Kevin Harvick (-1)

While Kyle Busch dominated the final stage of the race, Kevin Harvick earned the victory in stage two by passing his teammate Kurt Busch, who was not at all pleased by the move, coming to the green-white-checkered flag. Harvick fell off in the final stages of the race but he was creeping in case Larson and Busch wrecked each other and weren’t able to continue.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (-1)

For a driver who has won the last two races at Chicagoland Speedway and won the previous weekend at Sonoma, Martin Truex Jr. and team weren’t a winning car but still managed to pull a fourth-place finish. It kind of seemed as if the No. 78 team were in a different zip code as Larson, Busch and Harvick. For the seventh time of 2018, MTJ failed to lead a lap in the race, but that likely had at least a little to do with starting at the rear of the field after his qualifying time was disallowed.

4. Kyle Larson (+3)

His first victory of 2018 was so close yet so far away. Kyle Larson and Busch had a battle for the ages during the final laps where Larson used the high line to his advantage. But in the end, it was the low line that looked to earn the victory for the driver of the No. 42. In Turn 3, Larson was a turn away from punching his ticket to the playoffs but then bumpers were used and Larson went sideways. Still, he finished second which just shows how much of a wheelman Larson is.

5. Clint Bowyer (-1)

Clint Bowyer is beginning to look like that fourth driver who could battle for the championship at Homestead. His team just needs to get better at the mile-and-a-halves, and they could be a lock to battle for that fourth spot at ISM Raceway in November before Homestead.

6. Kurt Busch (-1)

Kurt Busch was close to earning the stage two victory, but when teammate Harvick made the last-lap pass, Busch lost the stage win and the lead. Busch never really made it back into the lead and fell outside the top 15 late in the race while struggling with a tight car; he ended up 17th.

7. Ryan Blaney (-1)

Team Penske should be glad Daytona is this weekend because they haven’t had much luck lately with the exception of pseudo-teammate Paul Menard winning the pole. Ryan Blaney dominated the Daytona 500 in February, so look for Blaney to potentially dominate Saturday night’s race.

8. Brad Keselowski (+1)

Brad Keselowski proved that a NASCAR driver is an athlete by taking the challenge of weighing himself before and after the race. Sunday’s race was hot and it put a test on the drivers in the field including Keselowski. He led 16 laps in Sunday’s race and earned a ninth-place finish.

9. Joey Logano (-1)

Joey Logano has had just enough speed to lurk in the top 10 but not enough to race for the lead or in the top five. On Sunday, it was no different as he finished the race in the eighth position. Logano, like his Team Penske teammates, has to be looking forward to getting to Daytona this weekend.

10. Erik Jones (NR)

Erik Jones has been putting on a performance in recent weekends and he’s continuing to improve behind his new ride. The No. 20 team has improved, look for them to be a threat in the second half of the season, especially at Bristol.

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