Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings After Michigan

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headed to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday for the FireKeepers 400. Though the race was cut short due to rain, we learned a lot about who’s stepping up their game in their manufacturer’s backyard.

Ford put on an overwhelming performance at the front while Toyota wasn’t too far behind. While beginning to show more speed, Chevrolets struggled to contend. In the end, no one could stop the Fords of Stewart-Haas Racing which resulted in SHR’s first 1-2-3 finish in team history.

Here is how this weekend’s rain-shortened race switched up our Power Rankings.

1. Kevin Harvick (+2)

Kevin Harvick almost lucked into his sixth victory of the 2018 season at Michigan. But as Harvick stated after the race, if you have to give a win away, who better to give it to than a teammate?

Harvick still earned a second-place finish resulting in his 11th top-five result of the season. Had the rains not come, he may have picked up his series-leading sixth victory of the year. This team is still the one to beat heading into the MENCS off week.

2. Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch raced his brother, Kurt, for position quite a bit on Sunday, ultimately finishing behind him in fourth.

From the battle of the brothers on Sunday to Berlin Raceway on Monday, Kyle Busch mixed it up with the likes of Bubba Pollard and others in the late model world. Busch finished third in the race and… that’s it for his travails outside the Cup Series this week. Surprisingly, he’s not running the  NASCAR XFINITY Series at Iowa this weekend.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (-2)

It was business as usual for anyone who has been up front all year long … except Truex, who was missing from the front on Sunday. NASCAR Race Hub‘s “Radioactive” segment on Tuesday included comments from Truex saying the car was absolutely terrible (18th). But with two victories to his credit so far this season, the reigning champ can afford a few “off weeks” before the playoffs begin.

4. Ryan Blaney (+1)

Blaney won stage one and continued to show speed even as the rains came pouring down at Michigan.

He still finished inside the top five and, if the race had gone the distance rather than being shortened due to rain, Blaney could’ve given the SHR Fords a run for their money.

5. Clint Bowyer (+1)

There used to be peace on earth if Dale Earnhardt Jr. found Victory Lane on Sunday. Now, Clint Bowyer may be fulfilling that role, but without the “peace”. Bowyer seems like the kind of guy who shows up at a get-together and makes it a party. It ain’t no party ’til Bowyer shows up.

That makes me wonder … is Clint Bowyer available for my 21st birthday “get together” on Friday?

6. Kyle Larson (-2)

Larson was looking to make history by earning his fourth straight Michigan victory.

Maybe the key is to not put those words together in a sentence — history is rarely made when hype is built up for it. Look at Harvick and Busch, both looking for record consecutive victories in a season. Neither were able to seal the deal.

Larson wrecked late in the race and never had the time to make up positions. Owen Larson was happy with the winner though … so he’s got that going for him.

7. Kurt Busch (+3)

219 miles per hour? Goodness gracious, these cars are going insanely fast … but shockingly, it wasn’t a “Freaky Fast” car on the front row heading into qualifying. It was Harvick’s teammate Kurt Busch, and he translated that speed into a strong run and a third-place result in Sunday’s race. Busch was the third portion of the 1-2-3 finish on Sunday for Stewart Haas Racing.

8. Joey Logano (-1)

For a guy who has won at Michigan a lot, Logano wasn’t doing so hot during Sunday’s race (June 10), but still landed a strong finish. Armed with his victory at Talladega (which actually counts this year), Logano can continue to run solid every weekend and manage to pull off good seeding in the playoffs.

9. Brad Keselowski (+1)

Our own Dustin Albino got a shout-out out by many of the biggest stars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for showing how quick these cars are going from a fan’s perspective. Hint … they are going extremely fast.

Keselowski was super speedy again on Sunday but it wasn’t enough to step up against SHR’s Ford trio. A victory is just around the horizon for Keselowski and a playoff berth could follow.

10. Paul Menard (NR)

Oh, I hear you NASCAR fans and Wood Brothers Racing… they want you to know Menard’s strong runs aren’t flukes. The veteran has been putting in strong finish after strong finish behind the wheel of the No. 21 and is on the verge of becoming a permanent fixture inside the top 10.

Trust me, Menard will continue improving and eventually he will earn win No. 100 for the Wood Brothers. Look to Daytona for the No. 21 to earn that victory.

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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