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Fantasy Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Richmond 1

by Dan Beaver

Since March 1 – 45 days from the writing of this article – NASCAR has visited three similarly-configured, 1.5- and two-mile tracks, three short tracks, and three flat tracks (Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway bear as much similarity with Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway as they do with Bristol Motor Speedway – albeit in a different way).

As a result, the best drivers have been able to get and sustain momentum for quite some while.

As is often the case, NASCAR has a cruel twist in store for them. After one week off, the series heads to one of the biggest wild cards in the deck: Talladega Superspeedway and then onto Dover International Speedway, which has no real comparative.


1. Kyle Busch (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 9
FPR#: 3.98

While we think it’s a pretty strong indication of strength, there are limitations to the Fantasy Power Rankings formula: It doesn’t really account for mistakes. Busch was caught speeding on pit road in Segment 2 of the Toyota Owners 400 and was never able to get back into contention for the victory. Without that mistake, he would likely have continued to dominate the race like he did in the first 100 laps. Still, his raw FPR number is head and shoulders above the field, so there is little risk of him losing it at Talladega.

2. Joey Logano (last week: 4) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 9
FPR#: 6.26

Logano had a car capable of winning last week, but track position is critical in the Cup series. Despite changes to the car design in 2019, aero-dependency is still one of the biggest factors in who wins or loses. It took too long for Logano to get around Bowyer in the closing laps and once he was in Truex’s dirty air, it was going to take too long to make the pass for the lead. Logano has proven he will use the bumper, but could not get close enough to do so.

3. Kevin Harvick (last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 9
FPR#: 6.33

Even though he failed to win again last week, Richmond was the first sign of real strength we’ve seen out of Harvick through the first quarter of the season. He won the pole, recorded an Average Running Position of 3.97, and finished fourth. He spent the entire day at the front of the pack and can use that confidence boost in a few weeks when the series heads to Dover.

4. Denny Hamlin (last week: 2) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 9
FPR#: 6.71

As expected, Hamlin finished in the top five again last week. He’s been one of the strongest drivers this year and exceptionally good on short, flat tracks where his reputation was made. Fantasy players had a right to be nervous when NASCAR stripped his qualification time due to an inspection issue, but those who kept the faith added 25 place-differential points to their total. Hamlin’s Average Running Position was affected by his poor starting spot, however, so he slips a couple of position in the Power Rankings.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 6
FPR#: 7.67

No matter what happens for the rest of the year, Truex has his first career short track win. Starting fifth and running in the top five most of the day insured this victory was no fluke, but before players get overly enthused about his chances they should note the pair of sub-10th-place results in the two races preceding that.

6. Kurt Busch (last week: 7) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 8.98

Busch’s 11th-place finish last week at Richmond is only the second time since leaving Daytona that he’s finished outside the top 10. His worst result has been a 12th – and notably, both of his results just outside the top 10 came on short, flat tracks.

7. Brad Keselowski (last week: 8) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 8
FPR#: 9.80

The fragile balance of today’s Cup cars is such that drivers often need to decide if they will set up for a long or short run before the green flag ever waves. If they guess wrong about the final segment, it can mean the difference between challenging for a win – or winding up seventh like Keselowski did last week. That is one reason we look at Average Running Position, which for Kez was 5.43 last week.  

8. Ryan Blaney (last week: 6) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 6
FPR#: 9.83

We really thought Blaney would carry some momentum with him to Richmond and score his first career top-10 on that track. Obviously, we were wrong, but that does not detract from his ability to rebound in the coming weeks on tracks that have been traditionally kind to Team Penske.

9. Chase Elliott (last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 6
FPR#: 9.87

If Chevrolet teams can figure out what they have been lacking in comparison to Toyota and Ford, Elliott is still our pick to lead that vanguard. Until then, he’s going to hover around the 10th-place mark in the Fantasy Power Rankings and occasionally be of only modest value.

10. Clint Bowyer (last week: 11) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 10.25

It’s hard to know which is worse – not really having a shot at winning like Bowyer experienced at Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway or coming up just short like he did at Texas Motor Speedway and Richmond. Saturday night, he seemed more frustrated with the top-three results than his efforts much deeper in the pack.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

17. Ryan Newman (last week: 19) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 0
FPR#: 10.25

Finishing ninth last week at Richmond was the third consecutive race in which Newman finished 11th or better. He also had a 12th-place finish at ISM Raceway and a 13th at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this year. The Roush Fenway Racing organization is making slow progress, but they are at least headed in the right direction.

22. Kyle Larson (last week: 14) -8
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 18.69

Throughout his career, Larson has struggled with bad luck and mistakes. Sometimes a driver makes his own bad luck by making mistakes. Larson could have been more patient in traffic at Richmond and he might have avoided the contact that eventually caused his accident. It’s going to take a long time before he is able to make up the Power Ranking points needed to get back in contention for a mention inside this top-10.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kyle Busch

3.98

1

0

2.

Joey Logano

6.26

4

2

3.

Kevin Harvick

6.33

3

0

4.

Denny Hamlin

6.71

2

-2

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

7.67

5

0

6.

Kurt Busch

8.98

7

1

7.

Brad Keselowski

9.80

8

1

8.

Ryan Blaney

9.83

6

-2

9.

Chase Elliott

9.87

9

0

10.

Clint Bowyer

10.25

11

1

 

11.

Aric Almirola

11.40

10

-1

12.

Daniel Suarez

11.69

12

0

13.

Jimmie Johnson

12.70

13

0

14.

Austin Dillon

14.12

15

1

15.

Paul Menard

14.26

16

1

16.

William Byron

15.38

17

1

17.

Ryan Newman

16.73

19

2

18.

Erik Jones

16.80

18

0

19.

Chris Buescher

17.51

21

2

20.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.28

20

0

21.

Alex Bowman

18.41

22

1

22.

Kyle Larson

18.69

14

-8

23.

Matt DiBenedetto

21.03

23

0

24.

Ty Dillon

21.32

24

0

25.

Daniel Hemric

24.74

25

0

26.

Bubba Wallace

25.41

28

2

27.

Ryan Preece

25.54

26

-1

28.

David Ragan

25.95

27

-1

29.

Matt Tifft

27.43

30

1

30.

Michael McDowell

27.63

29

-1

31.

Ross Chastain

29.16

31

0

32.

Parker Kligerman

29.18

32

0

33.

Corey LaJoie

30.03

33

0

34.

Landon Cassill

30.43

34

0

35.

DJ Kennington

32.00

36

1

36.

Bayley Currey

32.24

35

-1

37.

Cody Ware

33.27

39

2

38.

Reed Sorenson

33.31

38

0

39.

Quin Houff

33.40

37

-2

40.

Jeb Burton

33.50

41

1

41.

Gray Gaulding

35.00

43

2

42.

Garrett Smithley

35.09

44

2

43.

BJ McLeod

35.13

40

-3

44.

Timmy Hill

35.20

42

-2

45.

Joey Gase

35.25

45

0

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.