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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Martinsville 2

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: November 11, 2020, 11:03 am ET

Two drivers who needed to win dominated last week, while one of the clear favorites to win the championship wrecked on the final lap of the Xfinity 500.

Kevin Harvick entered last week’s Xfinity 500 with +900 odds to win the race outright. That ranked him seventh among likely contenders, which is as low as he’s been anywhere this year with the exception of Martinsville 1 and the plate tracks. Oddsmakers were so confident enough that his nine wins and the massive playoff points’ bonus that went with them would get him to Phoenix in contention for the championship, however, that he garnered +160 odds to win the Cup.

But that’s why they run the race.


Harvick struggled from the beginning of the race. He cut a tire, slapped the wall and lost two laps which were given back to him by NASCAR’s ‘no-driver-left-behind’ policies of wave arounds and free passes. He clawed his way into the top 10 only to see his championship hope evaporate when he tried to intentionally spin Kyle Busch for ninth and wrecked himself instead.

That put an end to one of the most compelling points’ battles since NASCAR implemented the current format. One in which the decision was a few hundred yards from resulting in a three-way tie for the final transfer spot.

Now one race remains and there is still money to be made. The four playoff contenders would seem to be equally matched with Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin listed at +240 to win, Joey Logano at +260, and Brad Keselowski at +300. Harvick (+375) is listed as the favorite to win the Season Finale 500, (and yes: that is what it’s called) with the four title contenders closely following at +475 to +600.  

Top 10

1. Chase Elliott (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 32
Weeks as #1: 9
Power Average: 6.42
We’ll admit that we underestimated Elliott last week. Ranked sixth on a track where he had less than a handful of strong runs, the lead of the race was not where he was expected, but it was his win that put so much pressure on Harvick and Hamlin. Now we head to a track where the No. 9 has been equally erratic. This time, bettors want to pay attention to his recent momentum.

2. Ryan Blaney (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Weeks as #1: 2
Power Average: 6.66
Two weeks ago, Blaney was 10th in the Power Rankings, but back-to-back top-fives rocketed him up the list. Blaney was listless at the start of the playoffs with four results outside the top 10 in the first five races. Now: he has five top-10s in his last six starts. Winning the championship is all about hitting one’s stride at the right time. Identifying that trend is how to be a successful bettor.

3. Alex Bowman (last week: 4) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 18
Weeks as #1: 1
Power Average: 8.41
The only thing Bowman could have done better in the Round of 8 was win. He finished third at Kansas, fifth at Texas, and narrowly avoided sweeping the top five with a sixth at Martinsville. In the Rounds of 16 and 12, he had two top-10s in three races apiece. He won’t challenge for the championship, but he is easily one of the strongest drivers at the moment.

4. Joey Logano (last week: 2) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 32
Power Average: 8.76
Winning the first race in the Round of 8 could be a double-edged sword. It allowed Logano to concentrate on Phoenix, but also put him in a position where racing for the win was occasionally tricky in the past two weeks. He has been great at Phoenix twice since 2015 with a pair of wins, but the remaining efforts were all outside the top five.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 7) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 28
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 9.68
For a little while last week, Truex was as strong at Elliott. He led the race four times for 129 laps and earned points in both stages of the race. A tire vibration sent him to the pits and cost a shot at the win, but his championship was derailed by back-to-back inspection penalties on the 1.5-mile tracks. In today’s NASCAR, a team cannot afford even one mistake as the opportunities for advancement shrink.

6. Brad Keselowski (last week: 6)
Weeks in the top 10: 31
Power Average: 10.15
Keselowski’s odds to win the championship hovered around +600 to +700 for most of the Round of 12 and 8. Last week before Martinsville, they surged to +325. This week, he opened at +300 on the PointsBet Sportsbook to take the Cup and +540 for the outright Phoenix win. That puts him behind Elliott and Hamlin and roughly on par with Logano. It will pay dividends to note, however, that he’s beaten the odds to get this far and all it will take is one more great weekend to crown him champion for a second time. He won the title in 2012.

7. Kyle Busch (last week: 8) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 22                         
Power Average: 11.00
Busch knew he would take a blow from Harvick on the final lap of the Xfinity 500. He braced himself and was ready to perform the 180 degree spin and not lose a position. We may never know precisely what he did inside the car to prepare for the contact, but it was a sight to behold. Busch is not highly favored this week at Phoenix, but no one will be surprised if he runs well.

8. Kevin Harvick (last week: 5) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 31
Weeks as #1: 14
Power Average: 11.75
Standing outside of his twice damaged Ford last week, Harvick said it best when he noted that in modern NASCAR one has to put together three great races to advance from round to round. He didn’t do that in either the Round of 12 or 8 with only one top-10 in each mini-season of three events. All he has left is the opportunity to score 10 wins in a season for the first time since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 and he is favored to do so at PointsBet with a +375.

9. Erik Jones (last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 8
Power Average: 12.25
Hamlin was not happy with Jones racing him hard near the end of the Xfinity 500 last week. With one point potentially meaning the difference between advancing to Phoenix with a shot at the championship or becoming another ‘also-ran’, he was understandably frustrated. But NASCAR does not limit the final races to playoff drivers only and that scenario will be repeated for all four contenders in the Season Finale 500k.

10. Kurt Busch (last week: 10)
Weeks in the top 10: 21
Power Average: 12.42
Busch performed well last week at Martinsville and was in a strong enough position that he could have challenged for the win if he had been able to get both track position and new tires. His fifth-place finish is his fourth top-10 in the last six races, but a 30-something result in each of the last two rounds sealed his fate.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

15. Christopher Bell (last week: 17) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Power Average: 17.26

16. Cole Custer (last week: 18) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Power Average: 17.39
Last week we suggested rookie contenders would perform admirably at Martinsville and might be worth a modest bet to finish in the top 10. None of them ran quite that well, but both Custer and Bell finished among the top 15 and improved their Power Average position. Phoenix is another driver’s track and they could end the season on a high note.

20. Austin Dillon (last week: 15) -5
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Power Average: 18.86
With his Texas 1 win and a strong run in the Round of 16, expectations were raised for Dillon. He continued to meet those lofty goals on the 1.5-mile tracks with a pair of 11th-place results, but if you jumped on the bandwagon too soon he fell outside the top 20 at Martinsville for the first time in five weeks.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Xfinity 500, Martinsville: Chase Elliott (+775)
Autotrader 500, Texas: Kyle Busch (+1500)
Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas: Joey Logano (+1400) 
Roval 400k, Charlotte Roval: Chase Elliott (+290)
YellaWood 500, Talladega: Denny Hamlin (+900)
South Point 400, Las Vegas: Kurt Busch (+4000)
Night Race at Bristol: Kevin Harvick (+625)

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.

Chase Elliott

6.42

3.50

1

0

2.

Ryan Blaney

6.66

5.50

3

1

3.

Alex Bowman

8.41

9.50

4

1

4.

Joey Logano

8.76

4.83

2

-2

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

9.68

4.00

7

2

6.

Brad Keselowski

10.15

4.83

6

0

7.

Kyle Busch

10.68

6.50

8

1

8.

Kevin Harvick

11.75

3.50

5

-3

9.

Erik Jones

12.25

13.83

9

0

10.

Kurt Busch

12.42

9.17

10

0

 

11.

Clint Bowyer

12.83

12.00

11

0

12.

Denny Hamlin

13.29

2.33

12

0

13.

William Byron

13.42

12.67

13

0

14.

Matt DiBenedetto

14.80

15.83

14

0

15.

Christopher Bell

17.26

19.17

17

2

16.

Cole Custer

17.39

19.83

18

2

17.

Tyler Reddick

18.58

16.33

16

-1

18.

Aric Almirola

18.62

11.50

19

1

19.

Jimmie Johnson

18.73

12.00

20

1

20.

Austin Dillon

18.86

16.33

15

-5

21.

Chris Buescher

21.53

22.00

21

0

22.

JH Nemechek

21.92

26.67

23

1

23.

Ryan Preece

22.07

27.14

22

-1

24.

Ty Dillon

22.34

27.50

25

1

25.

Ryan Newman

22.51

22.50

27

2

26.

Bubba Wallace

24.20

22.67

24

-2

27.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24.61

20.83

28

1

28.

Michael McDowell

24.68

24.83

26

-2

29.

Matt Kenseth

26.14

21.67

29

0

30.

Corey LaJoie

27.80

31.00

30

0

31.

Daniel Suarez

28.64

30.50

31

0

32.

Gray Gaulding

29.92

 

32

0

33.

Brennan Poole

30.92

32.33

33

0

34.

Timmy Hill

32.22

34.50

35

1

35.

Josh Bilicki

32.55

33.00

38

3

36.

JJ Yeley

33.38

33.17

36

0

37.

Garrett Smithley

33.52

 

34

-3

38.

Quin Houff

33.53

32.83

37

-1

39.

James Davison

33.90

32.25

39

0

40.

Joey Gase

34.94

34.00

40

0

41.

Reed Sorenson

35.36

 

41

0

42.

Chad Finchum

37.26

 

42

0

 

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.