(Photo: Randy Lanning)

Power Rankings: Phoenix Edition

Four different racetracks with four different styles of racing have given us a good look at the strength of teams in 2020. There’s no doubt that Hendrick Motorsports is better this season and the Ford teams are strong. It’s hard to get a good read on Joe Gibbs Racing yet, but there is enough evidence to think that there is parity between manufacturers. Let’s take a look at who is in the Top 16 after Phoenix. 

  1. Kevin Harvick: The only team to post four straight top 10s this season. Could this team go on a winning streak if strategy decisions start falling their way? 
  2. Joey Logano: The toughest thing to do in any sport is to repeat as a champion, and maybe that is why Logano had such an up and down season last year. The No. 22 team is off to a tremendous start this season, winning half of the races.
  3. Kyle Busch: We saw a chink in the armor of Rowdy as he got beat on the racetrack in one of NASCAR’s lower series which is something that never happens! Could this be his version of a post-championship slump? 
  4. Martin Truex Jr.: It’s hard to blame the early season woes for the No. 19 team on the crew chief change with the two worst results coming due to crashes. But the races Truex has not crashed have been average at best, having a 24.5 average finish in four starts. 
  5. Chase Elliott: That sound you could be hearing in Northern Georgia this weekend is not a warning of severe weather, it might be the si-reeen for Georgia’s favorite NASCAR son winning if the weather doesn’t win instead. 
  6. Jimmie Johnson: Last year the only race that seven-time seemed to be competing in was for the free pass to get back on the lead lap. In his final season we are starting to see the old champ racing like we are used to seeing him race.
  7. Kyle Larson: Young Money was seen racing down near — and even below — the yellow line at Phoenix! The No. 42 racing on the low line? What’s gonna happen next? Dogs and cats living together?
  8. Denny Hamlin: Ever since he won the Daytona 500 it’s turned into a weird season for the No. 11 team. He hasn’t led a single lap since going to victory lane and if that trend continues, he will be dropping out of the Top 10 on Power Rankings really fast. 
  9. Ryan Blaney: This is another driver on a downward slide since Daytona. Will bad luck continue to bug this team and driver all season? 
  10. Brad Keselowski: NASCAR is a crazy sport. After posting two top-10 finishes despite not leading a single lap last week, the No. 2 led 82 laps last week despite getting caught up in a wreck early but couldn’t get back to the top 10 at the checkered flag. 
  11. Aric Almirola: This season is turning into a great illustration of Almirola’s career in NASCAR: He has been solid but not spectacular this year, and that describes his entire Cup career too. 
  12. Alex Bowman: Bowman the Showman has finished on the lead lap in all three of the downforce races this season. This sort of consistency will keep him in the running for more wins throughout the year.
  13. Clint Bowyer: NASCAR’s funny man is showing he has quite a career ahead of him in the booth as an announcer when he decides his driving career is over. His performance on the track shows that time of wearing a tie full-time should be a few years away. 
  14. Matt DiBenedetto: DiBenedetto has been in the hunt in each and every race this season even though the No. 21 team only has one top-10 finish. In today’s track position dependent NASCAR, just staying in the hunt every week is a good recipe for success. 
  15. William Byron: Moving him back into the Top 16 is more of a reaction to the strength of Hendrick Motorsports than just a compliment on Byron’s driving ability. During an off year last season, this team the driver still finished 11th in points without winning a race. His first Cup win can’t be too far away. 
  16. Chris Buescher: Only three drivers have finished on the lead lap in all four races this season and Buescher is the one out of those three you wouldn’t have guessed. The other two are Harvick and Hamlin.

Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? Let us know and we might even include your comment on next week’s edition of Power Rankings! 

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About Dennis Michelsen

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Dennis a.k.a. DMIC has been covering NASCAR racing since 1998. After spending 23 years as a professional weather forecaster, Dennis still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he started covering auto racing full time. He is the moderator of the Race Track Business Conference - an all-day educational seminar covering the business of speed - and is the owner of DMIC Media & Marketing where he spends his time mouthing off about all kinds of sports. He is also the play-by-play voice for the professional Ultimate Disc team the Chicago Wildfire of the American Ultimate Disc League. Dennis can be heard every Saturday on The Final Inspection on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee, Wis. talking NASCAR, and you can listen on the Radio.com app.

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