Race Weekend Central

The 12: NASCAR Power Rankings Federated Auto Parts 400 Edition

In a throwback to the 1985 Indianapolis 500, Martin Truex Jr. did his best impression of Danny Sullivan’s “spin and win” as the New Jersian took the top step of the podium at Richmond Raceway for his second consecutive victory. Can Truex make it three-for-three in the first round of the playoffs this weekend at the Charlotte ROVAL?

Ryan Newman came out of nowhere to score a much-needed top five at Richmond. With this surprising display of competitiveness and a 14 -point cushion in front of the Round of 16 elimination cutline, can the Purdue Boilermaker feel comfortable about advancing to the next round despite the anticipated chaos of the ROVAL?

Ryan Blaney left his worst statistical track with his best statistical finish. Unfortunately, that finish was 17th. Although he is the defending winner at the ROVAL, with recent results like the one at Richmond, is Blaney slipping out of contention?

After crashing out of Las Vegas, Erik Jones managed to right the ship at Richmond … that was before he was disqualified. With a near-insurmountable gap to the playoff cutline, Jones will likely have to win in Charlotte, which according to Jeff Burton, is the hardest race track in America. Can he pull off the stunner, or is this a lost cause for “that Jones boy”?

Questions are multiplying as 40 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars prepare to tackle the series’ newest racetrack: the ROVAL. With just one race under its belt, this year’s event at the ROVAL is anticipated to be just as wild, pressure-packed, and carnage-filled as last year’s inaugural race? With storylines mounting, our Frontstretch gurus were challenged in determining the top 12 competitors currently in the MENCS.

Power Rankings: Federated Auto Parts 400 Edition

1. Martin Truex Jr. – 140 Points

First place votes: 9

Last week’s ranking: 1st (No change)

Despite struggling with forward bite issues, celebration and elation were seen written all of the faces of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 crew as Truex crossed the finish line first for the second consecutive weeks. The celebration was capped off by Truex’s two victory burnouts (credit Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s embarrassment) despite Kyle Larson‘s claim that he should be flagged for premature celebration.

“Even an unscheduled trip through the spin cycle couldn’t stop him.” Rob Tiongson, The Podium Finish

2. Kyle Busch 116 Points

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (+1)

Despite winning stage two, Busch could not find the keys that opened the gate to victory lane. We would assume that the Nevadan was preoccupied with late-model racing, but we could be wrong. Yet, Busch was able to walk away from Richmond with 54 points, including 19 stage points and another cushy playoff point. Well done.

“Truex vs Busch, Roadrunner vs Coyote.” -Dan Greene, Frontstretch

3. Denny Hamlin 107 Points

Last week’s ranking: 6th (+3)

The next drier out of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable is Hamlin. Ironically enough, Truex, Busch and Hamlin sit first, second and third in our power rankings this week, which directly emulates to their result at Richmond. However, Jones in the fourth JGR Toyota was disqualified. Yet, in another twist (*spoiler alert*), Jones is the last driver featured this week. Did someone say irony?

“The guy filming Roadrunner vs Coyote.” -Greene

4. Brad Keselowski 90 Points

Last week’s ranking: 5th (+1)

For the first time since Darlington, Richmond pole-sitter Keselowski managed to work his way up to the lead position, a title which he held for 89 laps. Like Busch and Hamlin, Keselowski has a considerable cushion over the cutoff line. However, the ROVAl awaits. The No. 2 driver hopes to not end up in the turn 1 tire barriers like last year.

“Needs to grow a playoff beard.” -Godwin Kelly, The Daytona Beach News-Journal

5. Kevin Harvick 84 Points

Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-3)

Just another day at the office…

“He will get his share in the playoffs.” -Kelly

6. Joey Logano 66 Points

Last week’s ranking: 4th (-2)

Although a 12th-place finish would be celebrated by many drivers in the MENCS garage area, Logano’s night was “not what we wanted at Richmond.” However, Logano later said we our “keeping our eyes on the prize and doing what we have to do to get to Homestead Miami Speedway.” Does this sound like 2018?

“You know Logano is dangerous when he has an extremely off race and he finishes just outside the top 10.” -Tiongson

7. Kyle Larson – 58 Points

Last week’s ranking: 8th (+1)

While Larson seems to be distracted by Truex’s burnout, it might just be as applicable to celebrate the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 team. Remember when the No. 42 bunch couldn’t finish a race earlier this year? They have certainly turned that around. With a comfortable sixth at Richmond and memories of the late-race heroics out of their driver at last year’s ROVAL race, the CGR group should feel pretty comfortable this weekend.

“Currently reading “How to Succeed in the Playoffs” by Ryan Newman.” -Greene

8. Chase Elliott 51 Points

Last week’s ranking: 7th (-1)

Despite scoring stage points in both stages, the son of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville slipped back to 13th on the finishing grid, the first driver one lap down. With Elliott’s lackluster playoffs so far, can anything be done to light a spark underneath the No. 9 team?

“NASCAR’s version of Wakko from the Animaniacs needs a pick me up in these next few races.” -Tiongson

9. Ryan Newman – 50 Points

Last week’s ranking: 12th (+3)

You know you’ve made it when you have a corn maze of your car.


This guy will point race you to death. Bring it on.

“So I’m not sure who invited Newman into the top 10. I wonder if he’ll follow his 2014 guidebook.” -Trey Normile, Gator Games

10. Clint Bowyer 25 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

After a way-too-long absence, the much-awaited return of Bowyer’s social media chronicles is BACK!!!

So, without further ado, on this week’s edition of Clint Bowyer’s social media chronicles: mamas and Lincoln Navigators, the picturesque beauty of bales of hay, and an intoxicated interview in camping lot J.

“This may be just wishful thinking.” -Kelly

11. Ryan Blaney – 14 Points

Last week’s ranking: 9th (-2)

Apparently Blaney is a home improvement expert who takes showers in his firesuit. Okay.

“Did someone say ROVAL?” -Zach Gillispie, Frontstretch

12. Erik Jones – 13 Points

Last week’s ranking: Not Ranked

Apparently, tech is harder to pass than Ryan Newman.

“NASCAR’s first ‘winner’ Glenn Dunnaway was disqualified because his car was a moonshine runner. What’s Jones’ excuse?” -Gillispie



Name Twitter Organization
Adam Cheek @adamncheek Frontstretch
Rob Dutzar Jr @rob_dutzar Rob’s NASCAR Blog
Darian Gilliam @blackflagmatter Black Flags Matter
Zach Gillispie @gillispie_zach Frontstretch
Dan Greene @librarymonk Frontstretch
Godwin Kelly @godwinkelly The Daytona Beach News Journal
Mark Kristl @markkristl Frontstretch
Kobe Lambeth @kobelambeth Kobelambeth.com
Trey Normile @rawgatoryt RawGator
Rob Tiongson @robtiongson The Podium Finish
Joy Tomlinson @jt_giantsfan Frontstretch

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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