Much to the exasperation of many fans packed into Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend, Denny Hamlin overcame several problems to claim his fourth victory of the season. Is Hamlin potentially the hottest driver going into the playoffs?
Chase Elliott has been relatively quiet since his big win at Watkins Glen. Another quiet top five at Bristol may have Elliott lurking in the weeds. Should Dawsonville, Georgia’s beloved son be considered as an unassuming threat?
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick encountered a rare mechanical failure at the Last Great Colosseum. With Harvick’s Bristol problems and SHR’s recent skid, can anything positive be salvaged for the four-car team before the playoffs begin?
Mr. Rocky Balboa himself, Matt DiBenedetto may have been the most popular man in Eastern Tennessee after a thrilling duel between the “Rocky” and Hamlin. Leaving his performance and uncertain future on the table, is “Matty D.” a true winning driver in the eyes of team owners for years to come?
Power Rankings: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Edition
1. Denny Hamlin – 126 Points
First place votes: 7
Last week’s ranking: 4th (+3)
We have a new sheriff in town and his name is Hamlin. After a winless 2018 season, the Virginian has taken NASCAR by storm this summer and has now climbed to the top pedestal of our power rankings, dethroning the longtime number one man Kyle Busch. Thanks to his Bristol victory, Hamlin sits tied for the most wins collected this season. Are we seeing shades of 2010?
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 18, 2019
2. Kyle Busch – 118 Points
First place votes: 3
Last week’s ranking: 1st (-1)
As mentioned previously, Hamlin sits tied for the most wins this season. But who is he tied with? He doesn’t have to look far, because fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr have four green win stickers too. There might just be an apparent power struggle at the top of the JGR totem pole, and surprisingly, Busch is the driver who has had the worst summer statistically amongst the three. Competition is good but is Busch’s “skid” going to continue?
They all have four wins. Who is the best JGR driver right now: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. or Denny Hamlin? pic.twitter.com/6SoGmvitVO
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) August 20, 2019
3. Martin Truex Jr – 96 Points
Last week’s ranking: 3rd (No Change)
The third driver in the trio of the JGR strongmen is Truex, whose name of the game as of late has been consistency. After a flat tire slowed his Bristol charge, Truex mustered up a solid top 15 in his sponsor’s race. Not bad.
— Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) August 18, 2019
4. Brad Keselowski – 84 Points
Last week’s ranking: 6th (+2)
DiBenedetto’s emotional front page drive may not have been if Keselowski hadn’t received late-race contact from Paul Menard. Keselowski cited this contact as the reason he couldn’t run down DiBenedetto and retake the top position in the late going due to the subsequent swing in handling. Seriously Paul.
— Team Penske (@Team_Penske) August 17, 2019
5. Chase Elliott – 76 Points
Last week’s ranking: 7th (+2)
Cue the jaws music.
He finished fifth in The Night Race. pic.twitter.com/noOmxj6A18
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 18, 2019
6. Kevin Harvick – 74 Points
Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-4)
To quote NASCAR on NBC personality Rick Allen, “Bristol Motor Speedway certainly has not gotten the memo that it is 2019 and the parts failures don’t happen anymore.” Well, Harvick may have gotten the short end of the stick after his clutch failure on lap 244, which resulted in Harvick’s second career last-place finish. (Thanks Brock Beard and LASTCAR for that nugget)
The face you make when you realize the #NASCAR Cup Series is off this weekend. ☹️
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) August 20, 2019
7. Kurt Busch – 61 Points
Last week’s ranking: 8th (+1)
Over a fourth of the Bristol field led at least one lap. At the bottom of that list was ninth-place finisher and defending winner Kurt Busch, who managed to pace the field for nine laps. However, one of his nine circuits out front netted him a stage two victory.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 17, 2019
8. Joey Logano – 59 Points
Last week’s ranking: 5th (-3)
Was Logano even competing at Bristol? He was nowhere to be found.
Finished P16 tonight at @bmsupdates. The early flat tire and damage from getting caught up in the multi car wreck put our team in a deep hole from the start. We didn’t give up. Battled back. Unfortunately, tonight just wasn’t our night. pic.twitter.com/VmbwlcUXFm
— Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 18, 2019
9. Matt DiBenedetto – 44 Points
Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” ~Rocky
10. Kyle Larson – 42 Points
Last week’s ranking: 11th (+1)
It’s time for a calm DIRT SLINGIN, HUSH YOUR MOUTH, OIL BURNIN, YEHAW, GUNS-A-BLAZIN, DUST BLOWING, BLUE JEAN WEARIN, BEER CHUGGING, REBEL-ROUSIN, SHORT TRACKING off week for Larson. Sound like a good time at the races.
Another good Bristol for us. Had winning speed for sure. Wish it would have worked out a little better but still a good night. Ready for my “off week” in California racing 5 races in 4 days on the dirt!
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) August 18, 2019
11. Ryan Blaney – 29 Points
Last week’s ranking: 9th (-2)
Blaney welcomed new sponsor Dent Wizard at Bristol, which turned out to be very fitting, considering the condition of his 10th-place finishing Ford at Bristol. According to Blaney, it’s a great product.
Bristol night race. pic.twitter.com/BYGkhISkPd
— Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) August 17, 2019
12. Erik Jones – 15 Points
Last week’s ranking: 12th (No Change)
Once again, if Jones hadn’t of smacked the wall, where would Matty D be?
— Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) August 18, 2019
OTHER DRIVERS WHO RECEIVED VOTES
- Alex Bowman: 11 Points
- Daniel Suarez: 9
- Aric Almirola: 5
- Clint Bowyer: 3
- Daniel Hemric: 2
- William Byron: 2
- Bubba Wallace: 1
- Ryan Newman: 1
THIS WEEK’S VOTING PANEL
|Jake Baskinger||@jbaskinger41||Jake Baskinger on YouTube|
|Bryan Davis Keith||@bryandaviskeith||Frontstretch|
|Rob Dutzar Jr||@rob_dutzar||Rob’s NASCAR Blog|
|Darian Gilliam||@blackflagmatter||Black Flags Matter|
|Godwin Kelly||@godwinkelly||The Daytona Beach News Journal|
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.