Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings After Darlington

The stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series were kicking it old school this weekend for the annual visit to Darlington Raceway. The throwback celebration has been a massive hit with both fans and competitors alike since its inception three years ago. From the retro paint schemes and uniforms to the outdated attire throughout the garage area and grandstands, the atmosphere has really returned the Southern 500 to crown jewel status.

Denny Hamlin even won the race in throwback fashion. You know, similar to back in the day when new tires were like pocket aces. Once the Joe Gibbs Racing team bolted four new ones on the No. 11 Toyota, Hamlin was able to storm back to the lead even after overshooting the pit entrance.

But where did Hamlin storm to in this week’s Power Rankings?  Well, our contributors weighed in on his performance, as well as those of the other top competitors in the present. We couldn’t really throwback to the specified 1985 – 1989 period anyways, since a few of our writers weren’t born yet. So did we get it right? Or is our list already outdated? You decide.

How the Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications, will vote for the top 10 on a 10-9-8-7… 3-2-1 basis, giving 10 points to their first-place driver, nine for second and so on. In the end, Frank Velat calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners and… here you go!

Total Votes


(Photo: NASCAR)

Martin Truex Jr.

Sure, a cut tire derailed Truex from a second straight Southern 500, but he’s surely winning the war for the championship. – Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish
First-Place Votes: 5



(Photo: NASCAR)

Kyle Busch

I guess we will see how much missing out on all these wins matters in the playoffs.  The way Busch is running, though, it might not matter at all. – Bryan Gable, Frontstretch

 First Place Votes: 1




(Photo: NASCAR)

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has so many seasons where he peaked too early. Is this the year FedEx will finally deliver on time? – Frank Velat, Frontstretch




(Photo: NASCAR)

Kevin Harvick

He would have had an even better run at Darlington had the Fords thrown back to earlier this season when they were good. – Michael Massie, Frontstretch



(Photo: NASCAR)

Kyle Larson

He was the highest finishing Kyle Petty throwback. That has to count for something. – Massie





(Photo: NASCAR)

Erik Jones

The rook is on a roll. Five straight top 10s, three straight top fives. Keep this up and he could surprise as a spoiler. – Phil Allaway, Frontstretch



(Photo: NASCAR)

Matt Kenseth

Only one finish outside the top 10 since Kentucky in July. The No. 20 team is knocking on the door for a win. – Brent Jones, Tha Sports Junkies 101



(Photo: NASCAR)

Kurt Busch

The No. 41 is starting to come alive at the right time.
Maybe Busch’s contract situation has provided a little extra motivation. – Gable





(Photo: NASCAR)

Brad Keselowski

Keselowski might not have been a factor in Sunday’s race, but that old-school MGD car looked fantastic
Pete McCole, Auto Racing 1




– 1

(Photo: NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson continues to do just enough to hang around the rankings. He’ll probably take them over once the playoffs start. It’s kind of his thing. – Velat



Others Receiving Votes: Ryan Blaney (9); Chase Elliott (7); Jamie McMurray (7); Ryan Newman (3); Austin Dillon (1)

Who Voted: Bryan Gable, Frontstretch; Pete McCole, Auto Racing 1; Michael Massie, Frontstretch; Frank Velat, Frontstretch; Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish; Brent Jones, Tha Sports Junkies 101; Phil Allaway, Frontstretch

About the author

Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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