(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Power Rankings: Return to Racing

It’s been over two months since the NASCAR and entire sports world was turned upside down. It seems like it’s been over a year since cars have been on the racetrack. But the seconds are ticking away until the season returns this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Let’s take an updated look at the Power Rankings before the NASCAR circus returns to racing. 

  1. Kevin Harvick – Even though the second half of March lasted two months and April had 90 days, I can’t find a logical reason to take Happy down from his top spot. I like the chance of the cagey veteran at Darlington Raceway. 
  2. Joey Logano – There has been some good luck involved, but also some good racing that allowed Sliced Bread to win twice in the first four races in 2020. A win at Darlington or at least another strong finish, and it will be hard to keep him from the top spot. 
  3. Kyle Busch – Not only did he not win one of the lower level races this year, but he has not shown his regular strength in Cup, leading 14 laps through the first four races. Could we see Rowdy losing a little bit of his top dog status?  
  4. Martin Truex Jr. – Gloom, despair and agony on me, ohhhhh. Deep dark depression excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Kids can Google those lines and see that it really was a thing back in the day. 
  5. Chase Elliott – Nobody has led more laps than Million Dollar Bill’s kid this season. If he can remember to race the track instead of the competition this week, NASCAR’s most popular driver could be on the rise after Darlington. 
  6. Jimmie Johnson – Were the first four races a mirage for seven-time? The fact there were a few rumblings about him possibly racing one more season because of the weirdness to his victory season is a sign that Johnson is not ready to hang it up…. yet. He has, after all, stated his openness to running in other divisions of motorsports. 
  7. Denny Hamlin – Ever since he won the Daytona 500, it’s turned into a weird season for Hamlin. He hasn’t led a single lap since going to victory lane, but he raced well in the seven-race iRacing season.
  8. Ryan Blaney – Will bad luck continue to bug this team and driver all season? With the departure of Kyle Larson, will we start talking more about Blaney being the guy that always seems to not live up to the amazing potential we have seen from him? 
  9. Brad Keselowski – If you can remember back to the first four real races, it was a weird mixed bag for Bad Brad. He has two top-10 finishes in three starts with an 11th at Phoenix Raceway, but has seemed to have issues that have have cost him a shot at stronger finishes. 
  10. Aric Almirola – This is the one driver whose rating could change the most over the next four races. After the first four races, it was easy to make a strong argument about why he should be in the top 10. On the flip side, I could also make an argument for why not. 
  11. Alex Bowman – Bowman the Showman has been one of the more consistent drivers on the downforce tracks so far this year. Darlington is a unique test for the No. 88 team, where the Arizona native has averaged worse than a 23rd-place finish over his last four races at the Track Too Tough to Tame. 
  12. Clint Bowyer – NASCAR’s funny man showed he is ready for his full-time TV career during the iRacing events. As an iRacer, he was pretty bad. As a real racer, he needs a strong run in 2020 to keep himself from the TV booth next season. 
  13. Matt DiBenedetto – This team and driver have been in the hunt at each and every race this season, and for full disclosure, I have followed Guido closely since his short track late model days. It will take some stronger finishes to keep a place in the top 16. 
  14. William Byron – Last year, Hendrick Motorsports was not that strong, but somehow Byron had a decent season. This year, the team is much better, but the driver has found bad luck, and the team will be challenged at the Lady in Black this weekend. 
  15. Ryan Newman – Okay, so you can call me an old softy, but if you’re not rooting for the Rocket Man to do well this week at Darlington, then you might need a heart transplant. Coming back after his near-death experience less than three months ago is an inspirational moment, and a win at Darlington would earn him a Disney movie. 
  16. Matt Kenseth – Okay, so you can call me an old softy times two, but how can you not enjoy seeing Kenseth back in a Cup ride? The team was doing well when Larson was the driver, and Kenseth is a super-steady driver who will not make mistakes. 

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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One comment

  1. Avatar

    So you put Truex, Blaney, Johnson, Almirola, DiBenedetto, Newman and Kenseth on the list but leave Kurt Busch off?
    I can see Truex, maybe Blaney but putting the others ahead of the 1 car is puzzling.

    It’s a clean slate with no practice, no qualifying and it’s anybody’s race but I’ll take experience any day. Plus Kenseth hasn’t been in a car in forever, much less this configuration and Newman is coming back cold turkey after a mind altering crash. (I’m not talking about “mind altering” in an injury fashion but in a faced with my own mortality way.) Johnson hasn’t shown much in the last year so the value of the experience of those 3 is negated in this case.