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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Power Rankings: Dedication to Bob Bahre Edition

Despite a ho-hum finish, NASCAR’s Cup division put on a great race at the Magic Mile to properly honor the late great Bob Bahre. The selective painting of the traction compound seemed to do the job, allowing drivers to run all over the racetrack. Let’s take a look at the Power Rankings after the 301-lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

    1. Kevin Harvick – His grasp on the top spot is starting to get precarious. Happy Harvick had another solid top-five finish despite a weird strategy call that almost doomed his day. The driver is still number one, but the team might get him demoted from the top spot soon. 
    2. Denny Hamlin – Leading 92 of the 301 laps showed that Hamlin is still the best driver in NASCAR history not to win a championship. A win might have been enough to catapult him into the top spot in Power Rankings, too. He remains second for this week.
    3. Brad Keselowski – Bad Brad took over that race last week in a very dominant fashion, which I wasn’t sure he had in him any more. That post-race celebration of his never gets old either. 
    4. Kurt Busch – Once again, the older Busch beat his brother, which is something he hasn’t regularly done during his career once Kyle figured out how to win regularly. But he drops a spot because this week it only took a 17th-place finish to beat his brother. 
    5. Kyle Busch – This is the week Rowdy will go crazy and win not once, but twice! There is no way the winningest driver in the history of NASCAR’s national touring series can go winless in the Cup division any longer this season. After all, 20 races is the most Busch has gone into a season (2018) without winning since joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 
    6. Chase Elliott – The good news is that Chase led the third highest number of laps last week. The bad news is, because of the dominance of Bad Brad and Dynamite Denny, that only accounted for nine laps.  
    7. Martin Truex Jr. – Don’t look now but crew chief (James Small) and driver seem to be adjusting to this new abnormal of no practice and no qualifying. Another strong finish by the No. 19 team moves Truex up this week, even though he failed to lead a single lap. 
    8. Joey Logano – This finally looked like the Logano that won two races before the pandemic. But he’s still looking for consecutive top-five finishes for the first time this season.
    9. Aric Almirola – That is now nine top-10 finishes in a row for Almirola since I started mentioning he might drop out of the Power Rankings altogether if he didn’t start picking up the pace. Other drivers and teams will be bribing me soon.  
    10. Ryan Blaney – How can a driver with this much talent continue to turn in worse finishes than how he ran most of the day? Maybe that explains why he has never been able to win more than one race in a season in his Cup career. 
    11. Tyler Reddick – It was another week to be amazed at how well this rookie has been doing this season. Yes, he is still winless, but he posted another top-10 finish despite not having the best of luck with the track position battle at times. 
    12. Cole Custer – The kid was starting to do better before his four-wide, special-tires, passing-on-the-outside win, but since that win, he has been awesome. Chalk up his fourth top-10 finish in his last five races. 
    13. Alex Bowman – Bowman the Showman might have fallen even farther this week, but the guys below him last week failed to shine too. It’s absolutely perplexing that he can’t put two top-10 finishes together in a row this season. 
    14. Clint Bowyer – It won’t be long until NASCAR’s funny man has nothing to laugh about as he gets replaced for next season. But when you continually fade at the end of races, you might end up being the odd man out next year if a suspended driver is allowed to return to NASCAR. 
    15. William Byron – The highest finishing Cup driver at Loudon last week who started out in iRacing. Byron has been a bit disappointing lately, failing to post even a single top five this season, but he will hold onto a spot in Power Rankings one more week. 
    16. Matt DiBenedetto – Despite starting 19th, the guy they call Guido because no one can pronounce his name the first time in a hurry posted another strong finish. Now, he heads to a track for two races where Wood Brothers Racing typically bring a good piece to race. 

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