Race Weekend Central

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Ticket Guardian 500 Edition

Kyle Busch has asserted himself as the prominent headline of NASCAR over the last several weeks as his quest to reach 200 victories across all three of NASCAR’s national series draws ever closer. After his romping victory in the Ticket Guardian 500, will the winning tradition continue throughout the season?

Despite phenomenal outings at Atlanta and Las Vegas, Brad Keselowski was involved in two incidences at ISM Raceway. With a win already in the bank and a playoff spot locked up, will Keselowski rebound at Auto Club Speedway, or will he take a more conservative approach?

Although he won the Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin has had a quiet but consistent season. Are more wins in store for Hamlin in the near future, or will the Virginian continue to click off solid, consistent finishes?

Ryan Blaney‘s up and down season continues, but a strong showing at ISM Raceway certainly impressed. Can Blaney finally figure out the key to consistency?

Questions still circulate as the NASCAR circus moves into the final leg of the West Coast swing. So far on the West Coast, some drivers have exceeded expectations, while others failed to live up to them. Our Frontstretch panel of experts certainly had something to say about it in our Phoenix edition of power rankings.

How the power 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: Ticket Guardian 500 Edition

1. Kyle Busch225 Points

First place votes: 17 (out of 19 panelists, nearly unanimous)

Last week’s ranking: 3rd (+2)

Cup wins: 52 victories

Xfinity wins: 94 victories

Truck wins: 53 victories

Wins need to get to 200: 1


“We might have to call the Xfinity and Gander Outdoor Truck series something more like “The Busch Series.” -Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish

“Are you not entertained?” -Michael Finley, Frontstretch

2. Joey Logano 174 Points

First place votes: 2

Last week’s ranking: 1st (-1)

For the first time this season, Logano did not lead a single lap in the Cup race. Despite his inability to get to the front, the defending champion raced in the back half of the top 10 throughout the event. The series heads to Auto Club Speedway this week, a track which Logano’s team owner Roger Penske owned and constructed. We will see if Logano can harness the Penske magic.

“So much for the championship hangover.” -Eric Estepp, Out of the Groove

3. Martin Truex Jr – 174 Points

Last week’s ranking: 6th (+3)

Kyle Busch was not the only driver to sweep the weekend. A driver named Truex swept the runner-up spots too. Well, not exactly. Martin’s younger brother Ryan capped off a strong weekend and finished second in the Xfinity event, equaling his career-best finish in the series. On Sunday, Martin backed his brother’s performance with a second-place finish of his own.

“Both Truex brothers ended up finishing second to Kyle Busch this weekend, and it’s somehow the second time both brothers finished second on the same weekend, after the first Daytona weekend in 2016.” -Finley

4. Denny Hamlin – 144 Points

Last week’s ranking: 7th (+3)

After four races in the young season, Hamlin has quietly posted the best average starting position and ranks second in average finishing position among all full-time drivers. With three top tens and a Daytona 500 crown, Hamlin continues to move up in the rankings. And, for those of you who were wondering, Hamlin did not wreck Chase Elliott this week, much to the vexation of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“One day, Hamlin will get into the Hall of Fame and people will still be overreacting about him being around Chase Elliott.” -Michael Massie, Frontstretch

5. Kevin Harvick – 127 Points

Last week’s ranking: 4th (-1)

The Phoenix master failed to lead a single lap in the desert. *Gasp* Everyone, please calm down. As pointed out by panelist Aaron Bearden, Harvick has failed to lead a lap in the four out of the last six Phoenix races. Throughout the contest, the nine-time Phoenix winner was dogged by track position issues, poor restarts, passing difficulties, and downright bad luck. 9th place, not bad.


“OH NO! Harvick didn’t lead a lap at Phoenix!” – Everyone, seemingly forgetting that he’s failed to lead a lap in four of his last six Phoenix starts.” -Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Beat

6. Brad Keselowski – 123 Points

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-4)

Entering ISM Raceway, Keselowski had one goal in mind: cross Phoenix off the bucket list. Unfortunately, a broken sway bar and a spinning Ryan Preece ultimately ended his chances

“Don’t blame BK if he felt like the Angry Video Game Nerd after some crazy times at ISM.” -Tiongson

7. Kurt Busch – 115 Points

Last week’s ranking: 5th (-2)

Last week, Global Poker signed a multi-race deal with Chip Ganassi Racing to become Kurt Busch’s primary sponsor for select races. Considering their buy-in, Kurt Busch hopes to be all-in as the season progresses. But, this year has been no flop so far. Despite a muck at Daytona, Busch has had three straight top 10s including a pair of top fives.

Enough of the poker puns, but Busch finished in lucky position seven at Phoenix. How about a jackpot?

“25th, third, fifth and seventh so far. If this trend continues, Kurt’s going to finish 71st at Homestead.” -Adam Cheek, Frontstretch

8. Aric Almirola 102 Points

Last week’s ranking: 8th (No Change)

Once again. Top 10 for the No. 10 machine.

“Finished higher than Harvick at Phoenix? Lucky and Good!” -Dan Greene, Frontstretch

9. Ryan Blaney 99 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

Blaney was on track to have the worst start to his career… that is, until Phoenix. He won the pole and remained competitive throughout the entire day. After a late caution flew, Blaney, on a contrarian strategy with only two fresh tires, was in prime position to score his third career victory. Instead, Kyle Busch caught the Ford driver in the closing moments, relegating Blaney back to a third-place result.

“A much needed third-place result for YRB. The No. 12 Ford Mustang looked strong in Phoenix.” -Kobe Lambeth, Kobelambeth.com

10. Kyle Larson93 Points

Last week’s ranking: 9th (-1)

A tide may be turning for the Chevrolet camp as Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch continue to carry the Chevrolet flag as Hendrick Motorsports continues to struggle.

“Suppose that Larson wins this Sunday at Fontana.  Can we finally put a stop to this whole belief that a blue No. 42 car is bad luck?” -Tiongson

11. Jimmie Johnson – 32 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

Johnson got a top 10. We have come to the time where that gets recognition. Gone are the days where a Johnson top 10 rarely ever got even a fleeting mention in the newspapers the next morning. The championship-caliber driver sure has some massive catching up to do to get back to those days, but a top 10 at Phoenix has returned him to our power rankings.

“Johnson easily had his most competitive race of the year by finishing in 8th place.” -Ryan Holman, Ryan Holman on Youtube

12. Clint Bowyer – 22 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

On this week’s edition of Clint Bowyer’s social media chronicles: A guy gets sick on an “aero-plane,” Elvis and a campaign to get Bubba Wallace‘s spotter to the truffle shuffle.

“Take the mask off. Think of all the winning you could do if you had the flu. Just ask Brad Keselowski.” -Zach Gillispie, Frontstretch



Name Twitter Organization
Aaron Bearden @aaronbearden93 Motorsports Beat
Adam Cheek @adamncheek Frontstretch
Bryan Davis Keith @bryandaviskeith Frontstretch
Rob Dutzar Jr @rob_dutzar Rob’s NASCAR Blog
Eric Estepp @ericestepp17 Out of the Groove
Michael Finley @finleyfactor Frontstretch
Darian Gilliam @blackflagmatter Black Flags Matter
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
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
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

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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