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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Charlotte Roval

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 14, 2020, 5:18 pm ET

The ticking of the clock is getting louder.

Four drivers saw their hope for a NASCAR Cup evaporate last week, including the defending champion Kyle Busch. The eight who remain face two similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and a short, flat track before the finale on November 8. That too, will be on a flat track and for a couple of drivers who do not have to worry overly about points, Martinsville and Phoenix are the most important races of the season.

The other drivers know they cannot make any mistakes at Kansas or Texas. The slightest miscalculation could cost them an opportunity to advance to the Championship 4. And, since the majority of NASCAR races have been run on similarly-configured, 1.5- and 2-mile tracks, everyone’s notebook is thick.

With Kurt Busch’s Vegas win, Denny Hamlin’s Talladega victory, and last week’s triumph for Chase Elliott, playoff contenders kept their streak of winning the past 31 consecutive playoff races alive. It is almost a certainty that one of the Current eight contenders will win this week – and for the next three weeks after that.

The driver who wins at Kansas will have the luxury of working on his Phoenix set for two weeks after the Hollywood Casino 400 and it could make the difference between winning and losing the title.

Top 10

1. Chase Elliott (last week: 7) +6
Weeks in the top 10: 29
Weeks as #1: 6
Power Average: 6.70
Elliott vaults into the top spot this week after running extremely well in back-to-back races at Talladega and on the Charlotte Roval. The team will have to step up their 1.5-mile track game to advance to the Championship round for the first time, however. In regard to 1.5-milers, Elliott got off to a good start with three top-fives in four races on this course type immediately following the return to action from the COVID-19 break. He’s won at Kansas before in a playoff race, but he has not finished in the top five at Texas since his rookie season.

2. Joey Logano (last week: 6) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 29
Power Average: 9.28
Like Elliott, Logano has had two stellar performances in the past two weeks. He crashed late in the YellaWood 500 and did not get the finish he earned, but last week he followed Elliott across the line in second. That was a much-needed boost to his confidence because he has three consecutive results outside the top 10 immediately prior. Unless he wins one of the next three races, it will likely take a perfect record of top-fives to advance – and we’re not entirely sure he has that in him.

3. Alex Bowman (last week: 5) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 15
Weeks as #1: 1
FPR#: 9.54
Bowman moves up two spots this week in the Power Rankings, but he actually did not improve his 45-day rating. Last week his Power Ranking number was 9.25; this week he has a 9.54, but when the top four drivers tumbled down the chart, he ascended. Bowman doesn’t care how he advances so long as that continues. He enters Round 3 of the playoffs eighth in the standings with an 18-point deficit to the final transfer position. To get there, he is going to have to consistently outrun Truex, Logano, and Elliott, which is a tall order.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 3) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 10.36
Frankly we are a little disappointed in Truex’s performance last week. He is the second-best road racer in the field at the moment, but never seriously challenged for the win. It’s possible that he was looking down the road with an eye on Kansas and Texas. He has been a dominator on the 1.5-mile tracks in the past, and while he does not have a victory there in 2020, he finished fourth or better in four of the last six races on that course type.

5. Kyle Busch (last week: 2) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 20                         
Power Average: 10.80
Busch had to gamble last week in a last-ditch effort to advance to the Round of 8. He didn’t have a car capable of holding off the leaders, but his 30th-place finish was a factor of having to pit in the closing laps for fuel. With the pressure of the championship off his shoulders, he can concentrate on getting his first win of the season. He is desperate to keep his 15-year win streak alive and that will cause the team to continue to swing for the fence.

6. Kevin Harvick (last week: 1) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 28
Weeks as #1: 15
Power Average: 10.92
Don’t worry about Harvick’s position on the chart this week. He is certainly not concerned. This is only the second time in 2020 that Harvick failed to finish in the top 10 in consecutive races. The plate track and road course were wild cards, however, and they have no similarities with the remaining tracks on the circuit. On the PointsBet Sportsbook, Harvick is still the favorite to win the championship at +150 – which is almost even money. He is also the favorite to win the Hollywood Casino 400 at +400.

7. Kurt Busch (last week: 11) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 18
Power Average: 8.71
At PointsBet Busch (+2500) has the longest odds of the eight current playoff contenders. He shares the 25/1 distinction with Bowman and that suggests these are the two drivers expected to fall out of contention in the Round of 8. No one expects him to win either of the "cookie-cutter" races and Martinsville can be a wild card. Then again, no one expected him to win at Vegas three weeks ago either.

8. Erik Jones (last week: 13) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Power Average: 11.62
Jones is fighting for his racing life. With four races remaining it has still not been announced where (or if) he will race in 2021. That sense of urgency can be seen in his recent results. Jones has finished eighth or better in five of his last six attempts. Don’t expect miracles at Kansas or Texas: Jones finished eighth in the most recent battle on this track type. If he can score a top-10 in the next two races, he will exceed expectations.

9. Denny Hamlin (last week: 4) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 24
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 12.41
As with Harvick, Hamlin has a bigger picture in mind this week. He is looking forward to Martinsville and Phoenix because there are few better drivers on short, flat tracks. Still, he cannot afford to give up too much ground on the 1.5-mile tracks. In the past 45 days, he has three top-five finishes that includes a win at Talladega. His other four results were outside the top 10. If three drivers below him in the standings win a race in the Round of 8, he could be in jeopardy of missing the Championship 4.

10. Brad Keselowski (last week: 8) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 28
Power Average: 12.80
Most times during the past 45 days, Keselowski has run better than he’s finished. The highlight of this span of races was his victory at Richmond in the Federated Auto Parts 400 that helped garner enough points to get this far. It doesn’t matter how well you run, however; ultimately most of the points are earned when the checkers wave. Kez will not advance to the Championship 4 unless he figures out how to finish among the top five consistently. Since the playoffs began, he’s earned only one top-10.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Ryan Blaney (last week: 10) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Weeks as #1: 2
Power Average: 12.95
Blaney’s fifth-place finish last week at the Roval was predictable, but it did not erase four sub-10th-place finishes in the past 45 days. The good news is that he has been almost perfect on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks in regard to top-10 finishes. In nine races so far this year, he has earned four top-fives, seven top-10s, and an 11th. Notably, his worst result of 20th came in the first Kansas race.

12. Clint Bowyer (last week: 9) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 8
FPR#: 14.11
Bowyer was frustrated at Charlotte last week. He had a car capable of winning until he sustained damage and knocked out the power steering. He wanted to make a great impression in the Roval 400k because earlier in the week he announced he will not race in 2021. He trades in his fire suit for regular suit and heads for the Fox broadcasting booth.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

13. William Byron (last week: 15) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Power Average: 14.41
Byron had back-to-back bummers at Richmond and Bristol during the Round of 16 and was eliminated from the playoffs. It appeared things were going to continue that way after a 25th in the most recent 1.5-mile race at Vegas. He was lucky and good in the last two wild card events, however, with a fourth on the superspeedway and a sixth on the Charlotte Roval.

14. Austin Dillon (last week: 12) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Power Average: 15.80
Dillon’s Cinderella season ended last week on the Charlotte Roval with an average finish of 21st during the Round of 12. No one can take the accomplishment of advancing from the Round of 16 from him or the team, however, and they have the building blocks to finish the season with consistent, top-15 runs.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Roval 400k, Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval: Chase Elliott (+290)
YellaWood 500,Talladega Superspeedway: Denny Hamlin (+900)
South Point 400, Las Vegas: Kurt Busch (+4000)
Night Race at Bristol: Kevin Harvick (+625)
Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond: Brad Keselowski (+900)
Southern 500, Darlington Raceway: Kevin Harvick (+260)
Coke Zero Sugar 400, Daytona: William Byron (+2500)

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Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Avg. Odds
Rank

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Chase Elliott

6.70

4.43

7

6

2.

Joey Logano

9.28

5.71

6

4

3.

Alex Bowman

9.54

11.14

5

2

4.

Martin Truex Jr.

10.36

4.29

3

-1

5.

Kyle Busch

10.80

5.43

2

-3

6.

Kevin Harvick

10.92

2.29

1

-5

7.

Kurt Busch

11.31

8.71

11

4

8.

Erik Jones

11.62

12.43

13

5

9.

Denny Hamlin

12.41

2.29

4

-5

10.

Brad Keselowski

12.80

4.43

8

-2

 

11.

Ryan Blaney

12.95

6.43

10

-1

12.

Clint Bowyer

14.11

12.14

9

-3

13.

William Byron

14.41

13.38

15

2

14.

Austin Dillon

15.80

15.57

12

-2

15.

Matt DiBenedetto

16.51

15.57

17

2

16.

Jimmie Johnson

16.52

11.57

14

-2

17.

Tyler Reddick

17.39

16.71

18

1

18.

Aric Almirola

18.20

12.00

16

-2

19.

Chris Buescher

18.61

22.50

21

2

20.

Cole Custer

18.61

19.14

19

-1

21.

Christopher Bell

20.10

18.57

22

1

22.

Ryan Preece

20.21

27.25

27

5

23.

Matt Kenseth

20.44

20.71

20

-3

24.

Ryan Newman

22.21

22.00

25

1

25.

Bubba Wallace

22.56

23.57

29

4

26.

JH Nemechek

22.67

26.00

26

0

27.

Michael McDowell

22.72

25.71

24

-3

28.

Ty Dillon

23.08

27.57

31

3

29.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24.00

21.43

28

-1

30.

Ross Chastain

27.47

 

32

2

31.

Daniel Suarez

27.75

29.86

33

2

32.

Cody Ware

28.29

 

 

NA

33.

Corey LaJoie

29.66

31.14

34

1

34.

Brennan Poole

30.31

32.00

35

1

35.

Gray Gaulding

30.36

 

36

1

36.

Quin Houff

32.72

32.71

37

1

37.

Garrett Smithley

33.09

 

40

3

38.

Timmy Hill

33.28

33.00

39

1

39.

JJ Yeley

33.30

33.00

38

-1

40.

Josh Bilicki

34.18

32.00

41

1

41.

Joey Gase

34.66

32.57

43

2

42.

James Davison

35.04

31.50

44

2

43.

Reed Sorenson

36.00

32.00

42

-1

44.

Chad Finchum

38.60

 

45

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.