Race Weekend Central

The 10: NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings after Indianapolis

It had been a long 26-race regular season with multiple teams falling behind while others went above and beyond in the performance department. The wait for the end of the regular season, however, was nothing like the three-day wait NASCAR faced this weekend in Indianapolis. Heavy rain throughout the weekend pushed both XFINITY and Cup series races to Monday.

Roger Penske was at Indianapolis on Sunday but wasn’t in town to kiss the bricks for the first time as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series owner after the race was moved to Monday. His driver Brad Keselowski won for the second week in a row, giving Team Penske its first Brickyard 400 trophy, his second straight crown jewel victory.

Throw in the drama of the final race of the regular season with the importance of the Brickyard and you have one hell of a race.

1. Kyle Busch (+1)

Kyle Busch did everything he needed to do on Monday to put a lock on the extra 15 bonus points he earned with the regular season championship. Busch heads into the playoffs on top and he’ll be looking for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

2. Kevin Harvick (-1)

Pit road issues really plagued the No. 4 team on Sunday but Kevin Harvick was still able to rebound and finish in fourth as he heads to a track where he at in the spring. He and the No. 4 team better hope that window brace doesn’t break again.

3. Brad Keselowski (+6)

Two crown jewel race wins in a row? Brad Keselowski is the first driver to say he did just that. He is also the only driver who can say he earned The Captain his first Brickyard 400 victory. The No. 2 team has momentum on its side as the playoffs begin next weekend.

4. Erik Jones (+1)

Where did he come from? Erik Jones showed up out of nowhere in the end and picked up a second-place finish. That is some great momentum to have on his side as the playoffs begin, especially with a car that has had success in the past in the playoffs with Matt Kenseth.

5. Chase Elliott (-3)

Consistency has been key for Chase Elliott and, had he not had that victory from Watkins Glen in his bag, it would have been what landed him in the playoffs anyway. Elliott needs to tweak some things before Vegas but don’t overlook him in your playoff grids.

6. Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch was looking to earn Stewart-Haas Racing its first Brickyard 400, leading 19 laps over the course of the race. The recent momentum by the No. 41 team could be something that could translate into great things in, what could be, Busch’s final season with SHR.

7. Martin Truex Jr. (-2)

It’s all going downhill for Martin Truex Jr. Something has been missing from the Big Three and that “something” just happens to be Truex. Furniture Row Racing will need to put the off-track drama to the side if they wants to defend their 2017 championship.

8. Ryan Blaney (-1)

Big things are coming for the No. 12 team as BodyArmor will be on the No. 12 for a couple more races after this weekend. Ryan Blaney had a rather fast car in the beginning but fizzled away as the race continued on. It’s something the No. 12 team will need to work on as they head into the playoffs.

9. Clint Bowyer (-1)

Clint Bowyer led a race-high 37 laps Monday (tied with Denny Hamlin) but just couldn’t get it done. His last victory came in a rain-shortened race at Michigan International Speedway earlier this season. The good momentum, though, will certainly help him as we head into the playoffs.

10. Denny Hamlin (NR)

Another loss for Denny Hamlin can be directly attributed to the final caution that flew, and the driver of the No. 11 Toyota was quite outspoken about it post-race. In reality, fresher tires on the No. 2 team cost the No. 11 team the victory, though the yellow did tighten up the field one last time. Like Blaney, Hamlin will need to finish the job in order to do get it done in the playoffs — otherwise it’ll only be a matter of time before Hamlin is eliminated.

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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strange when Harvick beats Busch by 4 spots and drops below him … you are smoking weed

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