All season, questions have been raised regarding NASCAR’s top competitors. After 38 weekends, the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has finally come to an end. Despite our questions, we now know that Kyle Busch is a two-time champion, Denny Hamlin‘s long-awaited championship will have to wait for at least another year, and William Byron has had his best season so far in his young career.
As the dust settles, our Frontstretch panel of experts was tasked with determining the 12 best MENCS competitors currently. After much deliberation, the final edition of Frontstretch Power Rankings was produced.
How the 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 position, 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: Ford EcoBoost 400 Edition
1. Kyle Busch – 156 Points
First place votes: 13 (Unanimous)
Last week’s ranking: 3rd (+2)
Behold, the champ is here!
With a car that looked like it was on rails, Kyle Busch cruised away from the field under a disappearing Florida sunset. Despite possessing the worst statistics of all the Championship Four at Homestead Miami Speedway, the Candyman strolled home to claim his second career MENCS championship. He has won several late model races too. Now, all that is left is to pop a couple of M&Ms in your mouth and hope that the offseason goes by quickly because Daytona can’t come any faster.
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) November 18, 2019
2. Martin Truex Jr – 140 Points
Last week’s ranking: 2nd (No Change)
One of the most embarrassing mistakes you could ever make likely cost Truex Jr a shot at a second championship in three years. After his crew mistakenly inverted the right and left side tires on an ill-fated pit stop, Truex rebounded, but it wasn’t enough to catch his teammate in the end. Truex finished second in points for the second consecutive year.
Not the end result we wanted tonight, but it was an incredible season. Thankful for my team, everyone at @JoeGibbsRacing, our partners @BassProShops @AutoOwnersIns @ToyotaRacing and everyone who supports us. We’ll be back. pic.twitter.com/v7y1CXpxWH
— Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) November 18, 2019
3. Kevin Harvick – 124 Points
Last week’s ranking: 4th (+1)
Five years have now passed since Harvick captured his lone championship. On his latest quest for a second, Harvick never contended for most of the race, despite leading laps in the early going. Yet, to quote him earlier this season, Happy has proved that “old guys still rule.” With his 44th birthday fast approaching, Harvick will yet again begin his quest for his second title in February.
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) November 17, 2019
4. Denny Hamlin – 122 Points
Last week’s ranking: 1st (-3)
The third time proved not to be a charm for Hamlin. After coming ever so close to his first championship in the 2010 and 2014 seasons, Hamlin once again fell short of the title. While many called 2019 the “year of Denny Hamlin,” the 39-year-old still has a giant goose egg in the championship column despite 14 full-time seasons of stellar MENCS competition.
— FedEx (@FedEx) November 18, 2019
5. Joey Logano – 103 Points
Last week’s ranking: 5th (No Change)
Looking at the stat book, Logano grew quite the acclimation toward the number five. In fact, the Connecticut native finished fifth in points, fifth in top 10s, and finished fifth in the season finale Ford EcoBoost 400. It was a solid season, but Logano has lost his “defending champion” marquis for at least another year.
— Joey Logano (@joeylogano) November 18, 2019
6. Ryan Blaney – 76 Points
Last week’s ranking: 6th (No Change)
Despite falling victim to an ax from the postseason, it was vividly evident that Blaney found a boatload of speed and momentum as the season wound down. Thus, it should not be any surprise that many are suggesting that Blaney could be the top candidate to have a breakout season in 2020. Could the third-generation racer become a superstar and a menacing championship threat?
Thank you to the entire 12 group and their families for a great 2019 season. Can’t wait until next year. Thank you to all the fans, new and old, who I had the pleasure seeing again or meeting this year for being so great as usual. Here’s to the end of a decade.
— Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) November 18, 2019
7. Kyle Larson – 70 Points
Last week’s ranking: 7th (No Change)
2019 for Larson might be best described as mediocre. Despite not putting up his 2017 numbers yet again, Larson did manage to find victory lane after a long and extended absence. Are more steering wheel-less burnouts on the 2020 horizon?
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) November 17, 2019
8. Clint Bowyer – 44 Points
Last week’s ranking: 9th (+1)
On the season finale of Clint Bowyer’s social media chronicles: A factory Ford driver changes a Chevrolet’s motor oil, a rubbery Mark Martin, and Cash looks to impersonate the greatest of all time.
Signed Cash up for basketball. Came to the mall to buy some gear. Dude shows up this weekend and supports our sport….I know what I’m buying! 👍 https://t.co/RHTJlMsKYb
— Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) November 18, 2019
9. Brad Keselowski – 38 Points
Last week’s ranking: 10th (+1)
The season finale wasn’t so kind to Keselowski as he struggled to find speed throughout the entire race weekend. With a subpar car, the Michigan native wheeled his Ford outside the top ten for the entire race and could only muster up an 18th place result. However, Keselowski salvaged an eight-place finish in points, highlighted by three race wins and over 1,000 laps led.
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 18, 2019
10. Chase Elliott – 37 Points
Last week’s ranking: 11th (+1)
Georgia’s favorite son again found victory lane three times this season but ran into several snags in the postseason. Despite the disappointments, Elliott gave fans one of the most memorable victory burnouts and subsequent display of “car surfing” this year. Yet, his wild display was justified after an amazing and resilient drive to victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL after stuffing his Chevrolet head-on into a tire barrier.
He will restart 15th. pic.twitter.com/aEvQnUPzfL
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) November 17, 2019
11. Erik Jones – 36 Points
Last week’s ranking: 8th (-3)
The Byron Bandit took his own throwback to victory lane earlier in the season at Darlington Raceway in the wee hours of the morning. The victory secured Jones another playoff berth, but soon after, he suffered one of the most catastrophic collapses in the history of the modern playoff format. While his teammates went on to claim three of the top four spots in the championship, Jones lagged behind this season. With Christopher Bell waiting in the wings, Jones will likely need to pickup it up in 2020.
Sure was fun running the wall at the end, wish we could’ve been a little closer to the front at the end. See you next year!
— Erik Jones (@erik_jones) November 18, 2019
12. William Byron – 16 Points
Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked
During the offseason last year, every single NASCAR news source was blowing up about the seemingly irreplaceable relationship between Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus. After seven championships and 83 wins, Chad Knaus jumped ship to become captain of a team led by a young 21-year-old winless kid from North Carolina. Despite early-season struggles and immense doubts, William Byron was one single point from becoming Hendrick Motorsports’ best driver in 2020. Maybe the pairing is paying off after a while.
What an awesome group to work with all year. Proud of how we performed once things started to click for us. 11th in points and ready for 2020. Thanks to @AxaltaRacing @LibertyU @UniFirst_Corp @Hertz for making it possible. pic.twitter.com/WBJ6u4FmzD
— William Byron (@WilliamByron) November 18, 2019
OTHER DRIVERS WHO RECEIVED VOTES
- Ryan Newman: 13 Points
- Alex Bowman: 12
- Jimmie Johnson: 9
- Kurt Busch: 9
- Aric Almirola: 2
- Austin Dillon: 2
- Matt DiBenedetto: 2
- Daniel Hemric: 1
- David Ragan: 1
- Paul Menard: 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|
|Leon Hammack||@captainblowdri||Working on My Rednck|
|Godwin Kelly||@godwinkelly||The Daytona Beach News Journal|
|Tommy McCoart||@nascarman_rr||Racing Reference|
|Rob Tiongson||@robtiongson||The Podium Finish|
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.