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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Toyota SaveMart 350K Edition

For the 15th time in the 16 races this season, a driver from Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske took home the top spot. With Joey Logano winning two weeks ago, it seemed like it was JGR’s turn, as Martin Truex Jr had to hold off a hard-charging Kyle Busch late to score his second consecutive win in Wine Country. Did he overtake his teammate to take over the top spot in this week’s power rankings?

Although there were no cautions other than stage breaks, there were still some interesting storylines to pull from Sunday in Sonoma. Chase Elliott was running in the top five when his engine let go and he had had to retire from the race. Clint Bowyer had to come back from a loose wheel to finish 11th and, although he fell back at the start, Kyle Larson recovered to register a top 10. How did all of these problems fare to their rankings? Find out below!

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: Toyota SaveMart 350K Edition

1. Kyle Busch 174 Points

First place votes: 9

Last week’s ranking: 1st (-)

For Kyle Busch, it was a hard-fought charge as he started in eighth and had to climb his way up to the top five through the two stages. Busch stayed out three more laps than Truex on their final pitstop in order to try and stretch the gap, but it was too little too late.

He fought all the way to under a second behind Truex but it was not enough as he had to settle for a runner up finish.

On the bright side? A one-two finish for JGR and all four JGR cars in the top eight.

It’s gotta  hurt just a little more when you get beat in a race and the guy that wins is driving practically the same car you have under you.Godwin Kelly, Daytona Beach News-Journal

“Second place sucks for this guy.” Kobe Lambeth, KobeLambeth.com

2. Martin Truex Jr 167 Points

First place votes: 5

Last week’s ranking: 3rd (+1)

It was a glorious day for Truex as, once again, he put on a dominant performance. Truex has won three races at Sonoma with three different teams and two different crew chiefs.

The one thing that was wrong for Truex? Apparently, he doesn’t like wine!

“Truex whines when he loses and drinks wine when he wins.” –Michael Massie, Frontstretch

3rd: Denny Hamlin 127 Points

First place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 7th (+4)

While his teammate won the race and earned five playoff points, it still was a great day for the Virginia native. At the end of stage two, most of the front runners came in and sacrificed stage points for track position. Hamlin stayed out, though, and earned 10 stage points and a playoff point that could come in handy once the playoffs start in Vegas.

“In fifth place, Hamlin was the third Joe Gibbs Racing driver to finish in the top five.” – Ryan Holman, Ryan Holman on YouTube

4th Joey Logano 120 Points

First place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-2)

After winning a couple of weeks ago in Michigan, it was a much different story for Logano. While he was up at the front during the first couple of stages, he was told he had electrical issues after the first stage. To top it off, he had to pit late in the race and had to settle for 23rd in wine country.

5. Kevin Harvick 118 Points

First place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 5th (-)

Once again, it was the same old story as a wide range of predictions had Harvick contending for the win in wine country.

However, this wasn’t the case as Harvick had to adjust his car throughout the weekend and ended up having to battle to secure a top five. We don’t know when that win is coming but one thing is for sure, they are giving 110% every week to try and get into the win column.

Harvick is carrying his team this year. It’s a throwback to his Richard Childress Racing day.” Massie

“Still hasn’t won huh? It took him a while to win in 2017 and he won at Sonoma. What is his excuse now huh? It’s not like he’s still top of the standings or anything.” – Jake Baskinger, Jake Bakinger on YouTube 

6. Brad Keselowski 109 Points

Last week’s ranking: 3rd (-3)

It was a seemingly quiet day for Keselowski as he was nowhere near the front for most of the race. When it was all said and done, like his teammate, Logano, he had to come in to pit late in the race and eventually ended up finishing in 18th.

On the bright side, he was willing to answer questions on his flight home!

“ Never saw him at Sonoma. You OK Brad?” – Kelly

7. Ryan Blaney 72 Points

First place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 10th (+3)

It was fairly surprising and kind of nice to see that the highest-running Team Penske driver this past weekend was Blaney. Recently, teammates Logano and Keselowski have been contending for wins and outrunning the No. 12 team.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as he won at the ROVAL back in 2018 and has been fairly good at Watkins Glen as well.
“I was actually shocked he was up front at the end. Nice to see Blaney get some good luck this season.” – Baskinger

8. Chase Elliott 56 Points

Last week’s ranking: 8th (-)

For the second consecutive race, it seemed to be a very solid day for this Hendrick Motorsports driver until he came down pit road for his final stop and reported to his crew chief that his oil pressure was low. When it was all said and done, the engine gave out and Elliott finished 37th when he easily had a top-10 car.

9. Kurt Busch 46 Points

Last week’s ranking: 10th (+1)

Like Harvick, one of the pre-race favorites was the Chip Ganassi Racing driver who won at Sonoma in 2011. However, although he showed speed in practice on Friday, the speed did not translate for the Vegas native as he could just not get the hang of it and had to bring it home in 13th.

Practice speeds did not translate to the race” Lambeth

10. Kyle Larson 36 Points

Last week’s ranking: 11th (+1)

After winning the pole for the third consecutive year at Sonoma, people had to think the result would be different for Larson and he would be contending for the wine.

Well, it was a different year, the same result. Larson didn’t end up leading a single lap as William Byron took the lead from him, up the hill in turn two at the very start. However, Larson did end up settling for 10th place.

11. Aric Almiorla– 27 Points

Last week’s ranking: UR

After spinning it around in turn three, Almirola had to rally and push hard for his top-10 finish. Solid effort for the No. 10 team.

12. Clint Bowyer– 20 Points

Last week’s ranking: UR

Like his Stewart-Haas teammate, Bowyer also had to recover as he had a loose wheel at the start of stage two and had to come in during green flag pit stops. Fortunately for him, he rallied and almost ended up with a top 10 until Larson passed him on the final lap to end up finishing 11th.

OTHER DRIVERS WHO RECEIVED VOTES

THIS WEEK’S VOTING PANEL

 

NameTwitterOrganization
Jake Baskinger@jbaskinger41Jake Baskinger on YouTube
Adam Cheek@adamncheekFrontstretch
Ed Coombs@combsedSpeedway Media
Bryan Davis Keith@bryandaviskeithFrontstretch
Matt Courson@m_coursonKickin’ The Tires
Rob Dutzar Jr@rob_dutzarRob’s NASCAR Blog
Dan Greene@librarymonkFrontstretch
Ryan Holman@realryanholmanRyan Holman on YouTube
Godwin Kelly@godwinkellyThe Daytona Beach News Journal
Mark Kristl@markkristlFrontstretch
Kobe Lambeth@kobelambethKobelambeth.com
Michael Massie@m_massie22Frontstretch
Trey Normile
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 Bryan Nolen

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Bryan Nolen currently goes to the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail. He would like to be involved in some aspect of Motor Sports after he completes school. He hosts a podcast that is on Apple Podcasts and Google Play called Sports Talk with Bryan and TB and lives in Boise, Idaho. Follow him on Twitter @TheBryanNolen

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