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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Bristol 2

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: September 23, 2020, 11:52 am ET

Ten races have been run since NASCAR last visited a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track. When Denny Hamlin won the Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway, he kicked off a six-race streak of top-six finishes. Kevin Harvick was in the middle of an 11-race streak of top-fives on ovals. Martin Truex Jr began an eight-race streak of top-four results there.  

A lot has changed for nearly every driver in the field. With the exception of Harvick, momentum has been hard to find during the last 10 events, but several contenders have now managed to sweep the top 10 during the playoffs. And most are not the drivers one would immediately think of in light of their regular season performance.

Harvick has kept his momentum with a pair of wins that helped extend his playoff bonus to 67 points. Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola were pleasant surprises each week, as well. If he had not been wrecked by Martin Truex Jr. at Darlington, Chase Elliott would have joined the list. If not for an ill-timed caution at Bristol last week, so would Joey Logano.

The playoffs are about near-perfection if one wants to get to Phoenix with a shot at finishing at the head of the Championship 4. Now more than ever, the playoff contenders are the ones to watch in terms of best bets for sports wagers.

Top 10

1. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 7.50
It’s a good thing Truex had so much momentum on his side because he was predictably bad at Bristol. Two weeks ago he finished 22nd at Darlington, but not before challenging for the win. We thought he might be able to eke out a top-10 at Bristol even though this is one of his worst tracks, but he ran in the back half of the pack for most of the night. Luckily it is one of the few chinks in his armor, so if he can put that behind him, the No. 19 team will continue to be one of the best values on unrestricted tracks for the remainder of the year.

2. Joey Logano (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 26
Power Average: 7.69
Logano did not get the finish he wanted last week with an 11th, but when a caution waves in the middle of a green flag sequence of pit stops, all bets are off. Logano will not take the sub-10th-place finish hard because he did not need a strong run to advance to the Round of 12 and that track did not have much to teach the teams in regard to setups for the rest of the season. He will be happy to reload for Vegas. Logano won the Pennzoil 400 there in the spring.

3. Kevin Harvick (last week: 4) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Weeks as #1: 13
Power Average: 7.82
Harvick’s performance last week is an example of why they run the races. On paper, Bristol was not Harvick’s best track. He had not scored a top-10 there since 2017 and his last three were outside the top 10. With momentum on his side, he dominated the final stage of the race and added to his already massive points lead. As a result, he is almost even money to win the championship at the PointsBet Sportsbook at +150. Given his strength at Phoenix, he could almost be listed with negative numbers as a prohibitive favorite.

4. Denny Hamlin (last week: 2) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 21
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 8.45
Without a single top-10 to his credit, the Round of 16 was not kind to Hamlin. He made mistakes at Darlington and Richmond to fall just outside that mark, but he was terrible at Bristol and ended the three-race stretch with an average finish of 15.3. The oddsmakers believe he will bounce back and PointsBet has currently listed at +275. Frankly, those numbers will be meaningless until Phoenix because he is virtually locked into the Championship finale. In fact, if he continues to struggle it is likely that his odds will be higher and provide a better return on investment so wait a week before making that wager.

5. Kyle Busch (last week: 11) +6
Weeks in the top 10: 17
Power Average: 9.52
Busch fell out of the top 10 last week and immediately bounced right back into the top five – but we knew he would have a strong run in light of his Bristol record. In fact, we thought he might win and for a little while it appeared that was even money in the closing laps. Now he heads to his home track – and Vegas has not been uniformly kind. He loves to race in front of the hometown crowd, but since 2005 he is batting only .412 in regard to top-fives. One of those strong runs came in 2009 with his first and so far only win on this 1.5-mile course.

6. Chase Elliott (last week: 6)
Weeks in the top 10: 26
Weeks as #1: 5
Power Average: 9.62
The most important thing for Elliott last week was to have a worry-free race. He clinched his spot in the Round of 12 with enough stage points and while the late-race caution pinned him a lap off the pace, he salvaged a top-10. Elliott knows he had a top-five capable car, which means he has been in contention in every playoff race so far. Still, the final results could stick in his craw unless he challenges for the win this week at Vegas. After all, Talladega is next on the schedule and his luck on plate tracks is literally ‘hit’-or-‘miss.’

7. Clint Bowyer (last week: 9) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 6
FPR#: 11.46
Bowyer swept the top 10 in three races during the Round of 16. Coupled with another pair at the Daytona road course and Dover late in the regular season, he has a lot of momentum on his side. It’s going to take more than top-10s to get out of the Round of 12, however, since he does not have many playoff bonus points. Winning solves a lot, but if he is not capable of doing that at Vegas, Talladega, or the Charlotte Roval he has another path if four of the top contenders run into trouble in two of more of those races.

8. Jimmie Johnson (last week: 7) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 13
Power Average: 12.06
Johnson could care less about his points’ standings or his ranking among the strongest drivers. Literally the only thing that matters in the final seven races is getting that elusive win. He will take chances at this stage of his career he never took before and that makes him the most volatile racer in the field. Only bet on him what you are prepared to lose, but modest wagers between now and Phoenix could return a lot on the investment if he manages to hit on a perfect strategy.

9. Austin Dillon (last week: 10) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 4
Power Average: 12.34
Quite frankly, it’s all gravy from here on for Dillon – but don’t expect the driver to accept that. Few gave him odds to advance to the Round of 12 and he thinks he can have another perfect three races. With two top-fives and a 12th, he advanced easily, but it only gets harder as the playoffs progress. Talladega looms large. The road course at Charlotte is another wild card, so that means Dillon’s entire season could hinge on Vegas. The victory that locked him into the Final 10 came on a similarly-configured track in Texas.

10. Brad Keselowski (last week: 5) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Power Average: 12.54
It was with wide-open eyes that we predicted Keselowski would be a favorite to win last week at Bristol. We knew this was not one of his better tracks, but the recent momentum on short tracks and a strong run on the high banks this spring gave us false confidence. We were wrong: very, very wrong. Sometimes you have to take your lumps and move on. Keselowski will do that this week on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track – a course type where he has one win, a second-place finish, and a perfect record of top-10s in 2020.

Dropped from the Top 10

13. William Byron (last week: 8) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Power Average: 13.94
The playoffs started with a lot of promise for Byron, but got progressively worse. He finished fifth at Darlington, which was his third consecutive top-five. The team missed the setup at Richmond. Byron’s 21st-place finish in the Federated Auto Parts 400 was not catastrophic, but he was on the bubble at Bristol. That bubble burst when a driver slowed dramatically in front of him and damaged his nose. Now Byron is in a support role to Elliott and Alex Bowman until 2021 rolls around.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

18. Tyler Reddick (last week: 12) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Power Average: 17.64
Reddick’s fourth-place finish last week at Bristol was as much a factor of being in the right place at the right time as it was a sign of strength. That is as much a part of NASCAR as driving to the front with a dominant car, but it is important to note that he had a strong run even before that gift. That was his third top-five and eighth top-10 in 29 races, which is not bad for a rookie.

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (last week: 19) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 20.97
Stenhouse has to be more than a little frustrated. He was a victim of circumstances at Bristol and finished last. That was the third time in the last five races that he landed outside the top 30 and it’s hard to develop a strong set of notes when catastrophe continues to strike. Luckily for him, Talladega is around the corner and he is one of the most consistent drivers on the plate tracks.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Night Race at Bristol: Kevin Harvick (+625)
Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond: Brad Keselowski (+900)
Coke Zero Sugar 400, Daytona: William Byron (+2500)
Drydene 311 (Sunday), Dover: Kevin Harvick (+450)
Drydene 311 (Saturday), Dover: Denny Hamlin (+600)
Go Bowling 235, Daytona Road Course: Chase Elliott (+375)
Consumers Energy 312, Michigan: Kevin Harvick (+250)
FireKeepers Casino 312, Michigan: Kevin Harvick (+400)
Foxwoods Casino 301, New Hampshire: Brad Keselowski (+900)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Avg. Odds
Rank

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Martin Truex Jr.

7.50

6.90

1

0

2.

Joey Logano

7.69

5.56

3

1

3.

Kevin Harvick

7.82

1.67

4

1

4.

Denny Hamlin

8.45

2.44

2

-2

5.

Kyle Busch

9.52

5.00

11

6

6.

Chase Elliott

9.62

4.89

6

0

7.

Clint Bowyer

11.46

12.44

9

2

8.

Jimmie Johnson

12.06

12.22

7

-1

9.

Austin Dillon

12.34

17.78

10

1

10.

Brad Keselowski

12.54

4.11

5

-5

 

11.

Alex Bowman

12.93

11.78

12

1

12.

Kurt Busch

13.92

9.56

13

1

13.

William Byron

13.94

14.56

8

-5

14.

Aric Almirola

14.89

11.33

14

0

15.

Erik Jones

15.29

11.22

17

2

16.

Ryan Blaney

16.20

6.67

15

-1

17.

Matt DiBenedetto

16.97

14.22

16

-1

18.

Tyler Reddick

17.64

17.33

21

3

19.

Cole Custer

18.44

18.56

18

-1

20.

Christopher Bell

18.79

17.89

20

0

21.

Matt Kenseth

19.48

19.33

22

1

22.

Chris Buescher

20.10

23.63

25

3

23.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20.97

21.67

19

-4

24.

Michael McDowell

22.31

27.00

26

2

25.

Ryan Newman

22.55

20.78

24

-1

26.

Ryan Preece

22.65

28.00

24

-2

27.

Bubba Wallace

22.95

24.56

27

0

28.

Ty Dillon

25.05

27.33

28

0

29.

JH Nemechek

25.20

26.22

29

0

30.

Ross Chastain

26.83

 

30

0

31.

Brendan Gaughan

27.29

 

31

0

32.

BJ McLeod

28.00

 

33

1

33.

Daniel Suarez

28.03

28.63

32

-1

34.

Corey LaJoie

28.32

31.44

34

0

35.

Brennan Poole

30.50

31.89

35

0

36.

Gray Gaulding

31.13

 

 

NA

37.

Quin Houff

32.93

34.00

38

1

38.

JJ Yeley

33.10

32.00

37

-1

39.

Josh Bilicki

33.43

33.40

36

-3

40.

Timmy Hill

34.13

33.56

39

-1

41.

Reed Sorenson

34.70

32.86

40

-1

42.

James Davison

35.19

31.88

41

-1

43.

Garrett Smithley

35.35

33.00

42

-1

44.

Joey Gase

35.77

33.50

43

-1

45.

Stanton Barrett

38.67

 

44

-1

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.