To simply put it, no one could catch Kevin Harvick last Sunday at the Brickyard. The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was out front for 118 of the 160 circuits around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Will such a dominating performance continue this weekend in Las Vegas?
A rare engine failure for Kyle Busch on lap 87 quickly derailed his efforts to gobble up more stage and playoff points to pad his already comfortable points cushion for the playoffs. However, with so many bonus points in his back pocket, is Busch the easiest pick to reach the Championship Four?
Chase Elliott has been noticeably quiet the last several weeks and a skirmish on Indy’s narrow pit road didn’t help things. Is Elliot just having tough luck, or is he slipping into another funk, similar to the one he had before his big Watkins Glen win?
A week after his Toyota ended up in victory lane at Darlington Racing, Erik Jones‘s No. 20 machine ended up on the back of a rollback after destroying his Joe Gibbs Racing entry in a nasty crash at the world’s most famous race track. What will it take for Jones to find consistency in the remaining ten races of 2019?
Questions are only multiplying as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has finally found its way to the playoffs. With the bubble drama and chaos we saw at Indy behind us, our Frontstretch experts were commissioned to determine the top 12 drivers in NASCAR. Here are the highly debatable results of the week’s edition of Power Rankings, Indianapolis….
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: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
1. Kevin Harvick – 162 Points
First place votes: 5
Last week’s ranking: 3rd (+2)
Tony Stewart captured yet another victory at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, putting on yet another impressive performance.
Oops, actually, Kevin Harvick did.
Oh well, Stewart still found a way to climb that ole fence again.
With Harvick’s dominating victory, the driver of the No. 4 car has dethroned Kyle Busch for the number one ranking, which couldn’t come at a better time for Happy, who is primed to chase his second championship.
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) September 8, 2019
2. Kyle Busch – 155 Points
First place votes: 7
Last week’s ranking: 1st (-1)
For the second time in three weeks, Kyle Busch has been bumped from the top spot of our weekly power rankings due to his malfunctioning smoke machine… err… Toyota Camry. But don’t you worry, Busch found a way to win this weekend, while all of his fellow competitors were preoccupied with the heavyweight fight down at the Applebee’s on Crawford Road.
— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 7, 2019
3. Denny Hamlin – 147 Points
First place votes: 3
Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-1)
Kyle Busch wasn’t the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver to go up in smoke at Indy. Hamlin’s scary moment in practice forced him to a backup car for last Sunday’s race. However, it was probably a good thing it happened before race day since the rest of his teammates encountered major trouble during the race. Hamlin motored home sixth.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 7, 2019
4. Joey Logano – 127 Points
Last week’s ranking: 6th (+2)
Apparently, Logano has a new NASCAR teammate. Simon Pagenaud has apparently replaced Brad Keselowski, and the duo seems to be engaged in a serious conversation with their other teammate Ryan Blaney about how they can get their Fords better for race day.
Ultimately, Logano came home second, Blaney salvaged seventh, and Pagenaud, well… he didn’t start.
A couple teammates catching up this afternoon at @IMS!
— Team Penske (@Team_Penske) September 7, 2019
5. Martin Truex Jr – 104 Points
Last week’s ranking: 5th (No Change)
Who knew pit road at Indianapolis bears so many resemblances to Martinsville Speedway. With the amount of damaged cars that exited the place, it certainly seemed like a typical day at the Paper Clip.
Unfortunately for Truex and others, we were not at Martinsville and aerodynamics actually mattered. Truex’s damaged quarter panel netted him a dismal 27th-place result.
— Auto-Owners (@AutoOwnersIns) September 8, 2019
6. Brad Keselowski – 91 Points
Last week’s ranking: 4th (-2)
Did anyone notice the genius marketing illustrated by the folks at Discount Tire Sunday? With perfect product placement and a large national television audience, Discount Tire gained valuable exposure for their product. Their marketing team deserves a raise.
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) September 8, 2019
7. Chase Elliott – 64 Points
Last week’s ranking: 10th (+3)
Unfortunately, Elliott hasn’t quite enjoyed as much success as of late as his beloved Atlanta Braves have. With 90 wins, the Braves sit fourth on NASCAR’s all-time win list, while Elliott sits tied for 79th. The young man has some making up to do.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) September 6, 2019
8. Erik Jones – 54 Points
Last week’s ranking: 9th (+1)
It has been a whirlwind for Jones the last several weeks. The Byron Michigan native won arguably the biggest race of his life at Darlington, only to follow up with a very scary crash at Indianapolis. Consistency has been hard to come by this season for Jones. Can he find some at Las Vegas, a track that has been hit or miss for “that Jones boy.”
Raceday for the @STANLEYSecurity @Wish4RHeroes #Camry team and we’re rolling off P14. Tune in to @NASCARonNBC at 2 p.m. Looking to ? some bricks today. #TeamSTANLEY #TeamToyota pic.twitter.com/Zio9OQo8Ee
— Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) September 8, 2019
9. Ryan Blaney – 51 Points
Last week’s ranking: 12th (+3)
The king of cool is just trying to be cool…
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) September 9, 2019
10. Kurt Busch – 50 Points
Last week’s ranking: 8th (-2)
While Kurt Busch might not have the resume that drivers such as his brother and Harvick have this season, the playoffs start now.
That’s all that matters.
Playoffs start now. That’s all that matters.
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) September 8, 2019
11. William Byron – 38 Points
Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked
While disappointment may loom throughout the garage area after Jimmie Johnson’s last-ditch effort to make the playoffs comes up short, it may have slipped many minds that Chad Knaus is looking to tie Dale Inman this season for the most championships won by a crew chief. Yet, his fate lies on the shoulders of a 21-year-old college student.
I always get asked what I do during the week. Here's a glimpse into what my day looks like – when I'm not in team meetings or studying, of course. ?
— William Byron (@WilliamByron) September 5, 2019
12. Kyle Larson – 37 Points
Last week’s ranking: 7th (-5)
The McDonald’s curse strikes again!
It is hard to comprehend that a McDonald’s sponsored race car has not won a race since 1994, 25 years ago. Larson was giving the golden arches one of its best performances in recent memory, only to fall short due to a crash, and thus, the curse lives on. To make matters worse, Larson had to come back to this…
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 9, 2019
OTHER DRIVERS WHO RECEIVED VOTES
- Clint Bowyer: 31 Points
- Bubba Wallace: 16
- Alex Bowman: 12
- Ryan Newman: 12
- Paul Menard: 8
- Aric Almirola: 5
- Austin Dillon: 2
- Daniel Suarez: 2
- Chris Buescher: 1
- Matt DiBenedetto: 1
THIS WEEK’S VOTING PANEL
|Jake Baskinger||@jbaskinger41||Jake Baskinger on YouTube|
|Bryan Davis Keith||@bryandaviskeith||Frontstretch|
|Rob Dutzar Jr||@rob_dutzar||Rob’s NASCAR Blog|
|Darian Gilliam||@blackflagmatter||Black Flags Matter|
|Leon Hammack||@captainblowdri||Working on My Rednck|
|Godwin Kelly||@godwinkelly||The Daytona Beach News Journal|
|Tommy McCoart||@nascarman_rr||Racing Reference|
|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
He may be a full-time college student and only a part-time journalist, but Zach Gillispie’s passion for fast cars is undeniable. Since joining Frontstretch in 2018, the 21-year-old has served in a variety of roles. Currently, he pens the weekly NASCAR 101 column, which can be seen every Friday. Additionally, Zach is one of the site's news writers and helps with Fronstretch's social media pages on race day. In the rare moments when he is not studying or writing, you can find him traveling, making double bogeys on the golf course, or cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves.