Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings After Charlotte

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 59th annual 600-mile event. When you look at the list of NASCAR Hall of Famers, most of them have at least one Coca-Cola 600 victory on their résumé. Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace are just a few of those drivers who have a Coca-Cola 600 trophy in their trophy case.

On Sunday, a driver added another event to his résumé. Kyle Busch straight up dominated the event leading 377 of the 400 laps.

On top of adding a Coca-Cola 600, Busch finally marked off that elusive points-paying win at Charlotte. With the victory, he becomes the first driver in the history of NASCAR to win at every active track he’s raced.

No one could touch Busch on Sunday, but for others, it was the race within the race. How did this weekend’s race change our Power Rankings? Check it out below!

1.) Kyle Busch (+2)

After finishing outside the top five three straight weekends, Busch showed up as a man with a plan leading 377 of 400 laps. Busch could not be denied the ever elusive Charlotte points-paying victory putting him in elite company.

You may not like Busch, but after his historic victory on Sunday, you have to respect the man, especially with his interactions with the fans following races. Listen, tons of those drivers headed straight out following the race but Busch still had to attend media availability, do the hat dance, and he still managed to find some time to make some kids’ race memorable.

2.) Kevin Harvick (-1)

Harvick had moved up to sixth before one of the tires went down, sending the No. 4 into the outside wall. Why was that a big deal, you ask? Well, he came from the rear of the field to sixth before the end of stage one. The only problem was, he didn’t make it to the end of the stage and ended up getting his second DNF of the season.

Harvick had the speed he would have needed to compete against Busch, but we never got to see that action.

Much like Busch, Harvick is very close to the same historic marker. Kentucky and Pocono are the only two tracks where Harvick has not earned a points-paying victory. This weekend, Harvick can inch one race closer to joining Busch in that elite company.

3.) Martin Truex Jr. (+5)

Had it been the Coca-Cola 610 or 615, Truex may have tracked down Busch for the victory. But it was the Coca-Cola 600 and he had to settle for second place. Penalties on pit road hurt the No. 78 team, so to still come home second shows how much adversity this team can come through.

The week was highlighted by visiting The White House last Monday, which turned out pretty good for the driver of the No. 78.

4.) Joey Logano (-2)

Joey Logano spun with Jimmie Johnson early in the race and never was able to rebound from the accident. Because of the contact, Logano earned his worst finish of the 2018 season. The only positive about his finishing position is that it matched his car number.

Other than that, there weren’t many positives this weekend for the No. 22. Logano now heads to the track where he got his second career victory, Pocono.

5.) Kyle Larson

The high line was supposed to prevail which means Larson will prevail, right? Well, that wasn’t the case on Sunday. Larson spun and he was not able to recover afterward. It must be key not to spin in this long race, unless you’re Johnson of course.

Larson wasn’t able to deliver a 600 victory but still finished the race in seventh. The No. 42 team will for sure be ready to move on past Charlotte.

6.) Kurt Busch (+1)

Busch is moving in closer and closer to having the speed like his teammates. It’s not even that they haven’t had speed — the finishes just haven’t shown it. Busch had a solid night as he watched his brother make history. Busch kept his car consistently inside the top 10 the entire race and came home with his second straight eighth-place finish.

7.) Ryan Blaney (-1)

This season hasn’t been friendly or forgiving to to Blaney so far. On Sunday, he had a super fast car and contended up front a good chunk of the race. Then the engine began to sour more and more and it finally ended up going up in flames, ending his night.

The second straight DNF for Blaney is a rut the team will need to get out of if they hope to make the playoffs. The good thing is Blaney is approaching the one-year anniversary of his first career victory. Will he finally earn his first victory for “The Captain” at the site of his first career victory?

8.) Clint Bowyer (-4)

Something was just missing with the No. 14 car this weekend but he was still able to finish 12th, a respectable result. Pocono was good to the No. 14 team last year, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’ll be that again this weekend.

9.) Jimmie Johnson (NR)

Could we be seeing shades of the old Johnson returning soon? True, it wasn’t a win but it was a solid night for the No. 48 team, which was very much needed. Look for the No. 48 team to begin clicking off positions before earning the victory sometime during the summer.

10.) Jamie McMurray (NR)

Charlotte was the scene of his first victory back in 2002 and on Sunday, he earned a strong sixth-place finish. McMurray has been just like Kurt Busch a majority of the season, sneaking inside the top 10 mostly every weekend. If McMurray can begin planning these runs inside the top 10 instead of sneaking in, he could pull out a victory before the playoffs begin or maybe the overall season ends.

About the author

His favorite tracks on the circuit include Barber Motorsports Park, Iowa Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, and Bristol Motor Speedway.

During the season, Christian also spends time as a photographer with multiple other outlets shooting Monster Energy AMA Supercross, Minor League & Major League Baseball, and NCAA Football.

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