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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings After the Bristol Night Race

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series traveled to Thunder Valley for a Saturday night showdown and there was nowhere to hide. No one was safe from any of the hardcore short track racing that took place and in the end, even the race winner had tape on his car.

Victor Kurt Busch was involved in the lap two accident after running into the rear end of Denny Hamlin. Much like the rest of the field, Kurt Busch’s night was just beginning, but the biggest headline went to the other Busch brother. The Busch brother who was the start of the crash on lap two.

During the entire week, the media was stating that Bristol would be the neutralizing point of the Big Three and it was just that. In fact, they finished 10th, 20th and 30th.

How did an ole’ night of chaos treat our power rankings? Well, needless to say, it too has tape on it after Saturday’s race.

1. Kevin Harvick

While the other two drivers of the Big Three were struggling, Kevin Harvick had the chance to have a clean night and run away with the best finish of the night among the trio. For a driver who has two victories at Bristol, it was just an off night for the No. 4 team.

But, let’s be honest, after seven race wins this season, he can afford it.

2. Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch had to hit everything but the snack bar Saturday night. After triggering the Bristol Big One on lap two, Busch pushed the limits of his car and made it back up front, even competing for the victory. After working his way back up through the field, the driver of the No. 18 came out on the losing end of a Bristol sandwich, ending his night after losing a tire and spinning out.

His on-track night may have ended there, but the frustrations of the evening were far from over. The hostility shown against Busch lasted all night long, including a fan who attempted to fight Busch following the race. Then, there were those keyboard warriors who would’ve liked to have fought Busch after the race also.

3. Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t get mad very often. In fact, Truex is normally a pretty calm person, but after his incident with Kyle Busch and JJ Yeley, things went south real quick. Had his car not been on pit road, something might’ve been thrown at the No. 18 following the crash.

4. Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott has been pretty good at Bristol in his short career in the Cup Series and that didn’t change on Saturday night. Elliott simply survived and showed the same speed he’s had since his victory at Watkins Glen. The driver of the No. 9 can surely begin making the argument that he’s the fourth person of the Big Four.

5. Erik Jones

Erik Jones did everything he needed to do on Saturday and was up front to compete for the victory. Despite not earning that elusive Bristol victory, Jones still put in his argument for that fourth driver of the Big Four which is what a majority of these drivers are going for.

6. Kurt Busch

2006 was the last time Kurt Busch won at Bristol.

Drivers who competed in that race and no longer race in NASCAR:

  • Carl Edwards
  • Bobby Labonte
  • Mark Martin
  • Greg Biffle
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Tony Stewart
  • Jeremy Mayfield
  • Sterling Marlin
  • Kyle Petty
  • Scott Wimmer
  • Dale Jarrett
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Dave Blaney
  • Ken Schrader
  • Casey Mears
  • Robby Gordon
  • Terry Labonte
  • Kevin Lepage
  • Michael Waltrip
  • Jeff Burton
  • David Stremme
  • Brian Vickers
  • Scott Riggs
  • Brent Sherman

Only 12 of the 43 drivers in that field still compete in NASCAR today.

7. Clint Bowyer (+1)

It was both a good and frustrating night for Clint Bowyer. Bowyer had an opportunity to take home his third victory of 2018, but a terrible final restart caused the win to fall out of his grasp. The move of Richmond from the final race of the season to the playoffs, though, could help Bowyer in the long run.

8. Ryan Blaney (+1)

Ryan Blaney was incredibly fast in the spring and showed some speed on Saturday. The key for Blaney was that he actually knew the issue they faced and the team will now go to work in trying to resolve it.

9. Daniel Suarez (-1)

Daniel Suarez was just lacking speed Saturday night after the crash involving Kyle Busch in the beginning. An 18th-place finish basically puts Suarez in a must-win situation as teams face the final two races of the season.

10. Alex Bowman (NR)

Let’s face it, that Valvoline paint scheme deserves to be very high on the list of best paint schemes of the year, but it was even better to see that car running inside the top 10 again this weekend.

Bowman is sitting in an OK position in the points standings and an eighth-place finish helps make things a little bit better with two races remaining.

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