(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Food City 500 Edition

Bristol winner Kyle Busch has flipped the stat books upside down again. Now with eight top 10s to open a season, Busch is tied for the best start to a season ever in this decade. At this rate, what other stats can he rewrite?

Kevin Harvick had a very un-Kevin-Harvick-like Bristol race. After failing pre-race inspection and forced to relinquish his starting spot, Harvick was a complete non-factor. Happy has not been very close to Victory Lane this year. Should he, and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team be nervous?

Fellow SHR competitor Aric Almirola had an early uncharacteristic retirement at the Last Great Coliseum, which put a sudden end to an impressive streak of top-10 finishes. Was this a fluke?

Like Harvick, Martin Truex Jr has had a relatively quiet season and was never a factor at Bristol. So far, Truex is clearly not as dominant of a driver as last season. Will he ever be able to find a way to emulate his incredible performances of last year, or are they a diminishing dot in Truex’s rear view mirror?

Many around the NASCAR sphere are still left contemplating questions as NASCAR treks up to Virginia. Many drivers rose to the occasion at Bristol while others faltered. After Bristol, our Frontstretch experts were put to the test to calculate the 12 best drivers in present-day Cup racing. Here are Power Rankings: Bristol…

How the power rankings are calculated: Following the conclusion of each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, members of a voting panel, including Frontstretch writers and members of accredited media outlets as well as writers from other sites and social media personalities, submit their top 12 drivers for the Power Rankings.

The drivers are then given points based on their ranking by our panelists, with first place getting 12 points, and each subsequent driver getting one fewer point until the 12th-place driver, who gets a single point. Points are then added together, and the rankings are subsequently produced.

Power Rankings: Food City 500 Edition

1. Kyle Busch – 192 Points

First place votes: 16 (Unanimous)

Last week’s ranking: 1st (No Change)

Busch wins again. Ditto…

He also recently set a speed record for a scissor lift…

“Thankfully he didn’t lose his Skittles after the early incident.” – Joy Tomlinson, Frontstretch

2. Joey Logano 161 Points

Last week’s ranking: 6th (+4)

Yet again this season, Logano and his Penske colleagues were challenging the Joe Gibbs Racing camp in a league all of their own. Unfortunately for Logano, the Penske trio came up with the short end of the stick after a meticulous game of pit stop chicken with JGR as Adam Stevens motioned at the last second for Kyle Busch to stay out during the final caution, a move that ultimately cost Logano a race win.

“Logano might not have won, but damn, his tires at the end sure were looking fresh.” – Michael Massie, Frontstretch

3. Denny Hamlin 159 Points

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-1)

If Denny Hamlin’s speeding penalties were actually wins, Hamlin might be knocking on the door of Richard Petty’s 200 Cup wins. You guessed it. Hamlin got yet another speeding penalty at Bristol. Although it would put a slight speed bump in his race, Hamlin fought back for a top five, a result that made him uh… er… um… happy?…

“The only driver told to slow down… on pit road.” – Rob Dutzar Jr, Rob’s NASCAR Blog

“If Hamlin’s going to speed on pit road anyway, then why not just fly down pit road as fast as possible? Think of the time he’d gain.” – Massie

4. Brad Keselowski – 136 Points

Last week’s ranking: 4th (No Change)

There was quite the delusion,

With NASCAR’s confusion,

That created Keselowski’s third lane illusion,

And this poem is quite terrible in conclusion

“Restart confusion? Penalized.” -Adam Cheek, Frontstretch

Tied 5. Kurt Busch – 111 Points

Last week’s ranking: Tied 8th (+3)

6,985 people thought Kurt Busch should have wrecked his brother at the time of this publication. It is probably about time that he pays his brother back for the 2007 All Star Race. 

“‘RT if I should’ve wrecked Kyle’ seems like the easiest way to get retweets.” – Dutzar Jr

Tied 5. Ryan Blaney 111 Points

Last week’s ranking: 10th (+5)

If you get Ryan Newman to laugh at you, you might have just done something unheard of.

Notice Blaney’s, quick tinge of fear as Newman “confronts” him on pit road when the race concluded.

“At least he didn’t get wrecked out of the lead this year.” -Cheek

“Want Blaney to win? Tell him the final stage is actually the second stage.” -Massie

7. Kevin Harvick 78 Points

Last week’s ranking: 3rd (-4)

At Bristol, Harvick really learned how to count… that is the number of laps down he was. Happy lost his first lap before he ever completed a lap due to penalty. Then, he went two down. Then four, then three. A wave around put him at two and a free pass locked him in at one, then back up to two, and back to one, and then zero. Confused yet? It was a very weird and rare day, but a decent top 15 showing greeted Happy at days end.

“Harvick arguably had the fastest car, but failing pre-race inspection multiple times put him in a hole that was impossible to recover from. Imagine if he did not fail inspection. He likely would have challenged Kyle Busch for the win.” – Kobe Lambeth, Kobelambeth.com

8. Clint Bowyer – 77 Points

Last week’s ranking: Tied 8th (No Change)

On this week’s edition of Clint Bowyer’s social media chronicles: a distinguished “professional” photograph of Brett Griffin, windmills, and Farmer Phil.

“If he wants to win so badly at Bristol, could you imagine how he must feel about getting a victory at Kansas?” -Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish

9. Aric Almirola 60 Points

Last week’s ranking: 5th (-4)

Top 10 streak counter: 0

“Almirola couldn’t Shazam his way out of trouble early.” -Cheek

10. Chase Elliott 48 Points

Last week’s ranking: 11th (+1)

Elliot claimed the Bristol pole but had trouble maintaining the lead, despite his clear height advantage at driver introductions.

“Darn it, Chase. You were 10 spots short of getting us wings, bro!” -Tiongson

11. Daniel Suarez 38 Points

Last week’s ranking: 12th (+1)

There may have been some doubts at the start of the season, but Daniel Suarez seems to be getting his feet under him. Could Suarez possibly emulate Joey Logano’s path to success?

Like Logano, Suarez might be starting to find some consistent success with another powerhouse team after a dismal start to a Cup career with a different team. Suarez has quietly slid into the top 12 in the points standings. He’s lurking.

“Suarez continues to get comfortable with Stewart-Haas Racing. Do not be surprised if he inches closer and closer to the front.” – Lambeth

12. Martin Truex Jr 25 Points

Last week’s ranking: 7th (-5)

Where did he go? Truex has seemingly disappeared compared to 2018.

“Is it too early to hit the panic button with the 19 team?” -Tiongson



Adam Cheek@adamncheekFrontstretch
Rob Dutzar Jr@rob_dutzarRob’s NASCAR Blog
Darian Gilliam@blackflagmatterBlack Flags Matter
Zach Gillispie@gillispie_zachFrontstretch
Dan Greene@librarymonkFrontstretch
Leon Hammack@captainblowdriWorking on My Redneck
Ryan Holman@realryanholmanRyan Holman on YouTube
Dakota Honaker@2codered4u2CodeRed4U
Godwin Kelly@godwinkellyThe Daytona Beach News Journal
Mark Kristl@markkristlFrontstretch
Kobe Lambeth@kobelambethKobelambeth.com
Michael Massie@m_massie22Frontstretch
Trey Normile@rawgatorytRawGator
Scott Page@slpageJayski
Rob Tiongson@robtiongsonThe Podium Finish
Joy Tomlinson@jt_giantsfanFrontstretch

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone was left out, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell others what your top 12 would be.

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About Zach Gillispie

Zach Gillispie
A lifelong race fan, Zach Gillispie joined Frontstretch in the summer of 2018 as a news writer. Originally from Charlotte, NC, he resides in western PA with his family. Zach currently attends Grove City College, pursuing a degree in Communication Arts. In the rare moments when he is not working or studying, you can find him involved in his church, traveling, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves, or immersing himself in anything that involves racecars of any form. Follow Zach on Twitter @gillispie_zach

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