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(Photo: Christian Koelle)

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Coke Zero Sugar 400 Edition

After getting delayed more than 12 hours due to rain, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was back in action at Daytona International Speedway and did not disappoint. The racing was electric with the threat of rain throughout the day, and when it was all said and done, 20-year-old Justin Haley scored his first career win in a rain-shortened race.

For many of the top teams, it was a rough day for them and specifically their pocketbooks. The Big One struck on lap 120 and collected many of the top cars including Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Clint Bowyer, to name a few. Did these drivers make it in the top 12 even with their unfortunate ending at the World Center of Racing?

Here’s how Haley’s surprise victory – and the Big One – factored into this week’s power rankings.

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: Coke Zero Sugar 400 Edition

1. Joey Logano 143 Points

First-place votes: 6

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (+1)

For Joey Logano, it was more of a “survive and move on” kind of race. The defending champ looked to be on his way but was swallowed up by a gaggle of crashing cars and ended up finishing 25th, two laps down.

2. Kyle Busch 131 Points

First-place votes: 4

Last week’s ranking: 1st (-1)

For Busch, like Logano, it was all about surviving. Also like Logano, Busch got some damage from the Big One but not as bad as some others and Busch went on to finish 12th.

Busch heads to Kentucky where he has won twice in nine starts with an average finish of fifth. Could he win for the first time since Pocono?

3. Martin Truex Jr. 101 Points

First-place votes: 1

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-1)

Like his other three teammates, Truex was also caught up in the mess that sent 18 cars every which way but up on Sunday afternoon. On the bright side, he heads to the place where he is undefeated in stage racing  and winner of the past two cup races: Kentucky Speedway.

He won the past two Kentucky Speedway races. Forget Daytona International Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. is eager to go to Sparta, KY.” – Mark Kristl, Frontstretch

He should be a threat to win this weekend at Kentucky.” – Kobe Lambeth, KobeLambeth.com

4. Kevin Harvick 92 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 6th (+2)

It was a rough day at the office for Harvick and his team as they were caught up in multiple incidents through the day on Sunday. They first got into Brad Keselowski which sent Keselowski into the fence with minimal damage to the No. 4. Then Harvick cut a tire down and spun it into the fence with a little damage.

To top it off? His tire exploded when he headed down pit road for the red flag for the rain delay.

Another unimpressive day in a season that’s been much of the same for Harvick.

That win is around the corner, then look out!”  – Godwin Kelly, Daytona Beach News-Journal

Spire Motorsports won before Stewart-Haas Racing this season. Harvick isn’t happy. Was that thunder at Daytona International Speedway or Harvick’s displeasure?” – Kristi 

“If you told me that Spire Motorsports won a race before Kevin Harvick, prior to the season, I would laugh for days.” – Lambeth

5. Brad Keselowski 91 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 4th (-1)

If you thought Harvick had a rough day, Keselowski would tell you to hold his Miller Lite as he had a rough weekend. The 2012 champion got into William Byron in practice and told NBC that he would not be lifting for anybody. However, during the race, Harvick was the one that didn’t lift when he got into the back bumper of Keselowski which sent him into the wall, ending his day at Daytona.

The “not lifting” mentality came around to haunt Brad on race day.”Adam Cheek, Frontstretch.com

Congrats to the Keselowski family on the little girl coming soon.”Lambeth,

6. Denny Hamlin 82 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 5th (-1)

Just like his other three teammates, Hamlin was charging up the field and was caught up in the melee on lap 120.

7. Kurt Busch 65 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 8th (+3)

Unlike Keselowski and Harvick, Busch had a solid day going until he went down pit road right before the lightning struck. If Busch would’ve stayed out, he would have been the Coke Zero Sugar 400 winner. His crew chief, however, Matt McCall was looking at the radar and, while he thought they were going to back to racing after the delay, Mother Nature had other plans and gave the victory to Justin Haley.

Just been that kind of season for Busch and the No. 1 team…

At least, he could joke about it after the race, right?

“Don’t talk about lightning bolts around this man for a while. Quite a while.” –Kelly

“He never wants to experience a storm again. The lightning will only cause FLASHbacks (pun intended).”Cheek

8. Alex Bowman 57 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 6th (-2)

After riding around at the bottom of the track with his Chevy teammates, Bowman was caught up in the Big One on lap 120 that put him out of the race and out of contention from going back to back in the win column.

Don’t count him out at Kentucky though — he has been on fire lately. And on the bright side, he’s got a new paint scheme that will feature some dogs on it at Kentucky on Saturday!

9. Chase Elliott 51 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 8th (-1)

Like his teammate Bowman, Elliott was also caught up in the Big One and finished with a DNF.

10. William Byron 42 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: UR (UR)

To say it was an eventful weekend for Byron, would be an understatement. Byron got together with Keselowski in practice on Thursday which resulted in a backup car for the youngster. With qualifying canceled for rain, Byron had to start the race with a brand new car that had no laps on the track. He marched his way up to the front, avoided the Big One and ended up second when the red flag came and was called a little while later.

Justin Haley prayed during that rain delay for Mother Nature to unleash her forces upon Daytona International Speedway. William Byron prayed for Haley’s No. 77 Chevrolet to fail post-race inspection. He came up one position short, but he has about one race of points margin over the playoff cut line.” –Kristi

Perhaps Byron is trying emulate teammate Alex Bowman by starting his own streak of second-place finishes before a first win” –Ryan Holman, Ryan Holman on Youtube

He is going to get his first Cup victory at some point before the season ends.” –Lambeth

11. Jimmie Johnson– 31 Points

First-place votes: 0

Last week’s ranking: 10th (+1)

It was a very solid day for Johnson and the No. 48 bunch as they were up in the top 10 for most of the day. He even avoided the Big One and scored his best finish of 2019.

Next on the agenda? Fly Fishing with his daughter for her ninth birthday.

“Seven-time appears to be moving in the right direction.”Lambeth

12. Austin Dillon– 26 Points

First-place votes: 1

Last week’s ranking:

Dillon led 48 laps and was charging for his first victory since the 2018 Daytona 500. However, he made an aggressive move down to the bottom groove with the No. 14 of Bowyer following behind. The two made contact and Bowyer turned Dillon into the fence to start the 18-car wreck on lap 120.

OTHER DRIVERS WHO RECEIVED VOTES

THIS WEEK’S VOTING PANEL

NameTwitterOrganization
Adam Cheek@adamncheekFrontstretch
Ed Coombs@combsedSpeedway Media
Rob Dutzar Jr@rob_dutzarRob’s NASCAR Blog
Darian Gilliam@blackflagmatterBlack Flags Matter
Dan Greene@librarymonkFrontstretch
Dakota Honaker@2codered4u2CodeRed4U
Godwin Kelly@godwinkellyThe Daytona Beach News Journal
Mark Kristl@markkristlFrontstretch
Kobe Lambeth@kobelambethKobelambeth.com
Michael Massie@m_massie22Frontstretch
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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