Loading scores...
Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Richmond

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: September 15, 2020, 7:55 pm ET

One of the things that make NASCAR so hard to handicap is that there are constantly drivers who refuse to stick to the script.

The only people who believed Austin Dillon would be this relevant two races into the playoffs were the driver, his owner, his loved ones, and probably most of the team. (Although it’s certain a few of them gave him long odds. You’d know who they are because they keep looking at their shoes when the question is asked.)

Everyone else had him as one of the four best bets to fall out of the playoffs at the end of the Round of 16. Dillon was listed at +10000 (100/1) to win the championship following Daytona. He improved to +5000 after Darlington and is +2500 now. Oddsmakers are rapidly coming to terms with his strength.


Since NASCAR is a zero sum game, Dillon’s success has come at the expense of another driver. In this case, Ryan Blaney has shown the most precipitous decline. He dropped from +1600 to +3300 to +10000 in the past three weeks.

Hard bounces like Dillon and Blaney have experienced are part of the sport, but they defy trends. It is much more profitable to look at how a driver has performed over a longer period of time. We have settled on the last 45 days to give a broad snapshot that is still recent enough to be relevant.

Here are the 10 strongest drivers since the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas – a race that was won by Dillon.

Top 10

1. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 21
Power Average: 5.76
If not for the mistake at Darlington when he misjudged the length of his car and drove himself and Elliott into the wall, Truex would have a current streak of 10 consecutive finishes of fourth or better. He was surprised by his second-place finish last week. We were less surprised as we had him ranked among the top five in last week’s edition of Beaver’s Best Bets. The only thing keeping him from being ranked No. 1 so far this season is the dominance of Harvick and Hamlin, but Truex is making serious inroads into their supremacy.

2. Denny Hamlin (last week: 1) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 20
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 6.05
Hamlin has run strong over the past several weeks, but he does not have the results to show for it. He finished 19th in Dover 2, 13th at Darlington after missing the pits, and 12th last week on a track he should have easily dominated – again after making a mistake while pitting. With 48 playoff bonus points in the bank, he is not in any real jeopardy of failing to get to the Championship, but he needs to regain some momentum before the series rolls into Phoenix. At +275 on the PointsBet Sportsbook to win the championship, more is expected of him.   

3. Joey Logano (last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Power Average: 7.60
Logano is quietly putting himself in a position to make a charge for the championship. After a fairly mediocre end to the regular season, he has now finished third in the first two playoff races. He looked much more impressive in the Richmond race than at Darlington, which is good because the same rules’ package will be used at Phoenix for the championship race. Martinsville 2 is another short, flat track between now and the finale, so it is important to note that Logano finished fourth there in the spring.

4. Kevin Harvick (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 24
Weeks as #1: 13
Power Average: 7.83
Harvick’s seventh-place finish last week in the Federated Auto Parts 400 was disappointing. It was the first time on an unrestricted oval since Pocono in June that he failed to crack the top five. The most likely reason is he was experimenting with a setup and strategy in advance of Phoenix. Richmond is another short, flat track and a decent comparative. He won’t feel compelled to do that at Bristol this week because the high-banked concrete oval won’t teach him much of use, but bettors should note that he finished only 11th there this spring and failed to crack the top 10 last year as well.

5. Brad Keselowski (last week: 6) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 24
Power Average: 9.95
Like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Keselowski called his shot. He said he would not be happy with anything except a dominant win – and that is precisely what he got at Richmond. His victory there was the sixth straight top-five on a short track. Earlier this year, he won at Bristol when Elliott and Logano wrecked battling for the lead. Kez will not relax with this win in his pocket because he needs as many playoff bonus points as possible and he feels that the No. 2 team is among the best on short tracks.

6. Chase Elliott (last week: 7) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Weeks as #1: 5
Power Average: 10.23
It would have been easy for Elliott to overdrive last week and try to make up for the points he lost at Darlington. He admitted Richmond was not his best track, however, and said he would settle for a solid run. That’s precisely what he got by earning points in both early stages and finishing fifth. A 28-point lead over 13th in the standings won’t exactly make him sleep like a baby this week, but five drivers are in greater peril.

7. Jimmie Johnson (last week: 5) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 12
Power Average: 11.29
Last week Johnson popped back into the Power Rankings top 10 because a 26th-place finish aged out of the 45-day formula we use to track recent momentum and strength. He remained with the leaders this week because a 32nd at Kansas dropped out, but don’t get used to seeing him this high on the list. Johnson is trending the wrong direction after finishing 18th and 31st in the first two playoff races. He will get another couple of top-10s before the season is over, but it’s probably going to be difficult to predict where that will happen.

8. William Byron (last week: 8)
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Power Average: 12.00
Byron made his first appearance in the Power Rankings last week on the strength of three consecutive top-fives. He was not as impressive last week and his 21st-place finish dropped him just below the bubble in regard to advancing to the Round of 12. It is only three points, but Byron is in the unenviable position of needing to catch veterans Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch at Bristol. Those drivers have ice water in their veins and are not likely to stumble.

9. Clint Bowyer (last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 12.42
With back-to-back 10th-place finishes, Bowyer is on the cusp of advancing to the next round of the playoffs. Unfortunately he is in a position were finishing 10th might not be enough if a driver below him in the standings wins, or if Byron has a much better performance. The best way to insure he will still be relevant at Las Vegas in two weeks is to go on the attack. He needs to make sure that he outperforms the No. 24, 1, and 10 cars to take the guesswork out of the equation.

10. Austin Dillon (last week: 11) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Power Average: 12.49
After qualifying for the playoffs with a surprise victory at Texas, not many experts gave Dillon long odds to make it out of the Round of 16. In fact, his odds of winning the championship were listed at +5000 at PointsBet  last week. Then again, his odds of winning the Federated Auto 400 were +6000 and he led a significant portion of that race and finished fourth. Dillon still has a few surprises up his sleeve.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Kyle Busch (last week: 10) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 16
Power Average: 12.52
It’s not that Busch has been bad all season, he’s just not lived up to his potential. He misses the opportunity to practice more than any of the other marquee drivers. Last week he said the crux of the team’s problem was that they do not roll off the hauler very fast and it takes too long to dial the car in. He has back-to-back top-10s in the first two playoff races, but hasn’t scored a top-five in the last four events.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

12. Alex Bowman (last week: 15) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 12
Power Average: 14.39
When Bowman began to slide down the chart from New Hampshire through Dover 1, we were ready to write him off. He found a manageable setup in the Sunday Dover race, however, and finished fifth. In the three races since, he’s swept the top 10. It’s not enough for us to recommend wagering on his ability to get an outright win at Bristol or to make the Championship 4, but he is going to go further in the playoffs than we initially believed.

15. Ryan Blaney (last week: 12) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 18
Weeks as #1: 2
FPR#: 15.53
After two dismal races to kick off the playoffs, Blaney is going to have to win at Bristol. The good news is that he has had some solid performances there, but his luck has been terrible on those occasions. The bottom line is that Blaney has only one top-five in 10 starts and that is not going to be enough to get him into the Round of 12.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
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)
Super Start Batteries 400, Kansas: Denny Hamlin (+800)
O'Reilly 500, Texas: Austin Dillon (+12500)

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.

5.76

6.50

2

1

2.

Denny Hamlin

6.05

2.56

1

-1

3.

Joey Logano

7.60

5.78

3

0

4.

Kevin Harvick

7.83

1.56

4

0

5.

Brad Keselowski

9.95

4.44

6

1

6.

Chase Elliott

10.23

5.00

7

1

7.

Jimmie Johnson

11.29

12.33

5

-2

8.

William Byron

12.00

14.22

8

0

9.

Clint Bowyer

12.42

12.67

9

0

10.

Austin Dillon

12.49

19.22

11

1

 

11.

Kyle Busch

12.52

5.11

10

-1

12.

Alex Bowman

14.39

11.33

15

3

13.

Kurt Busch

14.52

9.78

13

0

14.

Aric Almirola

14.54

10.33

14

0

15.

Ryan Blaney

15.53

6.56

12

-3

16.

Matt DiBenedetto

15.81

14.44

16

0

17.

Erik Jones

16.35

10.89

17

0

18.

Cole Custer

16.59

18.56

18

0

19.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.31

21.67

21

2

20.

Christopher Bell

18.43

18.00

19

-1

21.

Tyler Reddick

18.80

17.33

20

-1

22.

Matt Kenseth

20.81

19.11

24

2

23.

Ryan Preece

22.06

28.10

23

0

24.

Ryan Newman

22.06

21.11

25

1

25.

Chris Buescher

22.18

23.63

22

-3

26.

Michael McDowell

22.78

27.00

26

0

27.

Bubba Wallace

23.67

24.44

27

0

28.

Ty Dillon

24.66

27.22

28

0

29.

JH Nemechek

26.16

26.22

29

0

30.

Ross Chastain

26.83

 

32

2

31.

Brendan Gaughan

27.29

 

34

3

32.

Daniel Suarez

27.69

28.63

30

-2

33.

BJ McLeod

28.00

 

31

-2

34.

Corey LaJoie

28.69

31.44

33

-1

35.

Brennan Poole

30.50

32.11

35

0

36.

Josh Bilicki

32.06

34.00

37

1

37.

JJ Yeley

32.20

32.11

36

-1

38.

Quin Houff

33.16

34.22

38

0

39.

Timmy Hill

33.70

33.78

40

1

40.

Reed Sorenson

34.00

33.17

39

-1

41.

James Davison

34.49

32.13

41

0

42.

Garrett Smithley

34.64

33.00

42

0

43.

Joey Gase

36.33

33.75

43

0

44.

Stanton Barrett

38.67

 

44

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.