Race Weekend Central

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 Edition

Brad Keselowski found some Atlanta magic as he was able to use the new highly anticipated aero package to his advantage. While there are still many unknowns to figure out with the new package, does Keselowski’s victory suggest he is the favorite with the new rules?

After earning his first pole in six years, is Aric Almirola a force to be reckoned with this season?

Although Atlanta runner-up Martin Truex Jr left the Georgia track frustrated, is he now the top dog at Joe Gibbs Racing?

Truex’s teammate and Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin had a very quiet and lackluster Atlanta weekend. Will the upcoming races prove any different for the No. 11 driver?

Questions remain as NASCAR embarks on the west coast swing. After the initial glimpse of the new rules package, our Frontstretch experts had the difficult task of choosing their top 12 drivers in present day NASCAR.

How the rankings are calculated: Following the conclusion of each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, members of a voting panel, including Frontstretch writers and members of accredited media outlets as well as writers from other sites and social media personalities, submit their top 12 drivers for the Power Rankings.

The drivers are then given points based on their ranking by our panelists, with first place getting 12 points, and each subsequent driver getting one fewer point until the 12th-place driver, who gets a single point. Points are then added together, and the rankings are subsequently produced.

Power Rankings: Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 Edition

1. Brad Keselowski 234 Points

First place votes: 8

Last week’s ranking: 8th (+7)

What has happened to Brad Keselowski? He started out back at Daytona. Then he crashed… and crashed again. Yet, he still came home with a top 12-finish. Then, he misses a practice session at Atlanta because of illness and took a trip to the infield care center.

Oh, he also won the race the next day, holding off a hard charging Martin Truex Jr to claim his second Atlanta victory in three years.. Keselowski has proved he is one of the most formidable drivers this season. Look out.

“Like Jordan, had the flu, and dominated, getting the win.” -Rob Dutzar Jr, Rob’s NASCAR Blog

“Had a sick win at Atlanta.” -Godwin Kelly, The Daytona Beach News Journal

2. Kyle Busch – 220 Points

First place votes: 9

Last week’s ranking: 1st (-1)

Two milestones greeted Kyle Busch at Atlanta. On Saturday evening, Busch held off Johnny Sauter in the Ultimate Tailgating 200 to become the winningest driver in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series history, surpassing NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr.

Then, the candy-man strapped behind the wheel of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car for the 500th time in his illustrious career. Ironically, Busch rarely competed in the top five and didn’t even lead a single lap in the 500-mile event, but he still sits third in the points standings.

“Busch worked his way back to sixth from a cut tire, but couldn’t get the job done with a strong car.” –Adam Cheek, Frontstretch

3. Kevin Harvick – 213 Points

First place votes: 3

Last week’s ranking: 4th (+1)

The Atlanta Motor Speedway master was snake-bitten again. Despite being the defending winner, Harvick, along with Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr seemed to be caught up in a leaders-jinx, where race leaders succumbed to bad luck or penalties. Despite the jinx, Harvick remains quite optimistic for the rest of the season, as well as his son’s racing career.

“Once again, Harvick was competitive at Atlanta, but he just could not quite keep pace at the end and had to settle for 4th place.” -Ryan Holman, Ryan Holman on YouTube

“OK, the 2014 Cup champion didn’t win at Atlanta. But at least the panelists got to enjoy some Bloomin’ Onions on Monday, no?” -Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish

4. Martin Truex Jr 206 Points

Last week’s ranking: 9th (+5)

Many of our panelists questioned how Truex would adjust to his new home at Joe Gibbs Racing. If Atlanta was any indication, he is doing quite well. Have a listen to what he said after the race.

“Truex heavily complained about the lapped traffic costing him the win at Atlanta. Remember back in the day when Truex was the lapped traffic?” -Michael Massie, Frontstretch

“So close, yet still so far.” -Dr. Mark Howell, Frontstretch

5. Joey Logano – 180 Points

First place votes: 1

Last week’s ranking: 3rd (-2)

Like Daytona, Logano had a car that ran up front for most of the day, and ironically, led 22 laps. However, the No. 22, encountered a multitude of problems on pit road including a loose wheel and a race long “blame game” with Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr about pit road real estate. These issues ultimately derailed his winning chances. Let’s see if the 22 team can get things cleaned up on pit road at Las Vegas this weekend.

“Tire problems ruined his shot at the win. Did anyone happen to see Michael McDowell hanging around the No. 22’s tires?” -Massie

6. Kyle Larson – 157 Points

Last week’s ranking: 11th (+5)

Kyle Larson debuted his new paint scheme at Atlanta and lead a race high 142 laps, but then got one of those darn speeding penalties. Let the McDonald’s puns fly.

“Larson wasn’t lovin’ it after a speeding penalty, but still led 142 laps.” -Cheek

“Larson leading a race is only slightly more reliable than sponsor McDonald’s ice cream machines.” -Michael Finley, Frontstretch

“Yung Money’s run in a McDonald’s car matched the experience of eating at the restaurant – great for the first few hours, then crappy for the rest of the day.” -Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Beat

“Who cares that he didn’t win? The real thing that matters is that Owen Larson gets free happy meals out of this deal. You must keep the 2044 Cup champion happy.” -Zach Gillispie, Frontstretch

7. Denny Hamlin – 129 Points

First place votes: 2

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-5)

Denny Hamlin seemed surprisingly well-rested at Atlanta after his Daytona 500 triumph. Hamlin started inside the top five, but had a quiet day meandering around the back half of the top ten, ultimately coming home 11th. But, Hamlin is not focused on racing at the moment. The basketball aficionado found himself questioning an odd coincidence.

“Hamlin already had to hear his friend Michael Jordan talk about how good he was when he had the flu. Now he has to hear it from a fellow driver as well.” -Massie

“Wait Hamlin was in the race this weekend? I didn’t notice.” -Finley

8. Kurt Busch – 124 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

Like younger brother Kyle, Kurt Busch also hit a milestone at Atlanta. As the longest tenured driver in the Cup series, Busch notched his 650th career start. After disappointment, the veteran wheeled the No. 1 to position No. 3.

Busch will have the home-town advantage as the series travels to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week.

“Only 2 races into his CGR stint, and he’s already selling me on a possible playoff run.” -Eric Estepp, Out of the Groove

9. Clint Bowyer – 86 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

He must be a racer.

“Ole’ Clint was fast at Atlanta and I think he’s becoming one of the most consistent drivers in the sport right now.” -Alex Timms, Frontstretch

10. Erik Jones – 72 Points

Last week’s ranking: 6th (-4)

A seventh-place finish was decent, but not spectacular for Erik Jones. However, Jones is one of only two drivers to score a top-10 finish in both events this season. The other driver? Teammate Kyle Busch. Yet, Jones has a daunting task ahead at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track that has not been kind to him in the past.

“I’m just waiting for That Jones Boy to win the Brickyard so we call him “Indiana Jones.” Oh wait, that’s a long ways from now.” -Tiongson

11. Aric Almirola – 64 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

Almirola scored his first pole in over six years, and was in contention to have a great finish, but like so many others, an issue on pit road cost him a deserved finish. However, Almirola is heralded as one of the best draft racers in NASCAR. The new package may just play right into his hands. Almirola has already shown that he is in contention to cook up a championship.

“Seriously, Almirola, perhaps you should give bacon to Michael Waltrip so he can be energized for his grid walks.” -Tiongson

“Imagine you are a red-blooded American male who just happens to be a professional race car driver sponsored by a meat company. Why would you even try any more? You’re living every man’s dream” -Gillispie

12. Ryan Blaney 55 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

Blaney is on Dale Jr’s podcast this week. Enough said.

“YRB ran well throughout the race and led some laps. Unfortunately, a late-race pit stop cost him a decent finish.” -Kobe Lambeth, Kobelambeth.com



Name Twitter Organization
Jake Baskinger @jbaskinger41 Jake Baskinger on YouTube
Aaron Bearden @aaronbearden93 Motorsports Beat
Adam Cheek @adamncheek Frontstretch
Ed Combs @combsed Speedway Media
Bryan Davis Keith @bryandaviskeith Frontstretch
Rob Dutzar Jr @rob_dutzar Rob’s NASCAR Blog
Eric Estepp @ericestepp17 Out of the Groove
Zach Gillispie @gillispie_zach Frontstretch
Dan Greene @librarymonk Frontstretch
Leon Hammack @captainblowdri Working on My Rednck
Ryan Holman @realryanholman Ryan Holman on YouTube
Dakota Honaker @2codered4u 2CodeRed4U
Dr. Mark Howell @DrMarkDHowell Frontstretch
Godwin Kelly @godwinkelly The Daytona Beach News Journal
Mark Kristl @markkristl Frontstretch
Kobe Lambeth @kobelambeth Kobelambeth.com
Michael Massie @m_massie22 Frontstretch
Tommy McCoart @nascarman_rr Racing Reference
Trey Normile @rawgatoryt RawGator
Scott Page @slpage the late Jayski
Alex Timms @alextimmsmedia Frontstretch
Rob Tiongson @robtiongson The Podium Finish

Do you agree with our rankings? Think someone was left out, or that one of the top drivers is overrated? Let us know in the comments, and tell others what your top 12 would be. 

About the author

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Never at a loss for words, Zach Gillispie is a young, talented marketing professional from North Carolina who talks and writes on the side about his first love: racing! Since joining Frontstretch in 2018, Zach has served in numerous roles where he currently pens the NASCAR 101 column, a weekly piece delving into the basic nuts and bolts of the sport. Additionally, his unabashedly bold takes meshed with that trademarked dry wit of his have made Zach a fan favorite on the weekly Friday Faceoff panel. In his free time, he can be found in the great outdoors, actively involved in his church, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves or ruthlessly pestering his colleagues with completely useless statistics about Delma Cowart.

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