In Las Vegas, some times it’s better to be lucky than good at the games of chance. On Sunday night (Sept. 27), Kurt Busch hit the jackpot when a caution flew during a cycle of green flag pit stops. That timely caution helped one of Vegas’ own win, but it was an impressive finish that sealed the deal and moved him up in the rankings this week.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the Power Rankings after the first race in the Round of 12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Kevin Harvick – It’s a very good thing for the dominant driver in Cup during this weird 2020 season that the championship race didn’t end up at Vegas. Oh sure he had two hard fought top-10 finishes at Vegas this season, but fought an ill-handling racecar for all 400 miles.
- Denny Hamlin – There is no doubt that Hamlin is the second best driver in Cup by a wide margin this season. The man’s got six victories. It would have been very good to keep the momentum of NASCAR’s publicity blitz about the Hamlin/Michael Jordan team by winning, but that late caution ended that storyline.
- Martin Truex Jr. – Whether he has great luck with the strategy timing or horrible luck, you can almost always count on Truex to close the race strong. That is why the No. 19 is the undisputed number three driver in Cup this year, despite only winning one race in 30 attempts.
- Brad Keselowski – There is a big drop between the top three and the number four driver this year in NASCAR’s Cup division. Keselowski gets the nod because, despite not having the car underneath him for the majority of the 400-mile race at Vegas, he salvaged a 13th-place result.
- Chase Elliott – It appeared there was a very good chance for Dawsonville, Ga residents to be serenaded by that new siiiiii-reeen on Sunday. Bad timing for that caution during the pit cycle silenced the siiiii-reen and put Chase much closer to the playoff bubble instead, finishing 22nd.
- Kyle Busch – It was tempting to drop the Rowdy one out of the top 10 this week based on bad decision making during the race. Joey Logano seems to be the Kryptonite for NASCAR’s Superman, who is starting to let the 30-race winless drought get to him.
- Alex Bowman – Bowman the Showman was not on the positive side of the caution flag timing during the final pit sequence, but the No. 88 team had another strong race. That was Bowman’s fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.
- Joey Logano – Sliced Bread is his own worst enemy. When he makes smart decisions he scores top-10 finishes with regularity. But when you put him and Rowdy Busch together on the race track he’s toast!
- Aric Almirola – Attempting to rank Almirola every week is a tough task. It’s easy to make an argument that based on his consistency, he deserves a higher ranking. But it’s also easy to make an argument for him to be out of the top 10 based on the lack of wins.
- Kurt Busch – Some times when you roll the dice, you roll seven, and other times you hit craps! Busch’s car was slow enough to make the gamble of staying out pay off, and he got the needed caution to turn him from a playoff bubble boy to an elite eighter.
- Clint Bowyer – NASCAR’s funny man wasn’t laughing when he went from being a top five contender to being well outside of the top 10 after ending up on the bad side of caution flag timing. But Bowyer fought back to a decent finish.
- Austin Dillon – It’s always impossible to drop a guy in the rankings when his bad finish was due to a broken part. Dillon has been a huge surprise, but that broken part might end his Cinderella-like season unless he can win at Talladega Superspeedway.
- William Byron – I wonder if Byron has ever had a race like that in iRacing before when things fell apart late due to a wreck? Did you know he got his start in racing via iRacing? If not, you haven’t read Power Rankings before!
- Cole Custer – Cold Custer melts in the heat in Vegas, it’s true! Custer wasn’t great but wasn’t awful on Sunday, and he is too young to gamble anyway, right? .
- Ryan Blaney – Why doesn’t Blaney win five or more races every season? This young man can flat-out drive but often makes those decisions that make you wonder what he was thinking, and that’s why he is way down on this list again this week.
- Matt DiBenedetto – The rest of this season the final position in Power Rankings is only going to be a celebration of a driver who has a strong race. Yes, Wood Brothers Racing got lucky with that caution timing, but Guido raced hard in the closing laps to get that runner-up finish and showed why he deserves this ride next year.
About the author
Dennis a.k.a. DMIC has been covering NASCAR racing since 1998. After spending 23 years as a professional weather forecaster, Dennis still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he started covering auto racing full time. He is the moderator of the Race Track Business Conference - an all-day educational seminar covering the business of speed - and is the owner of DMIC Media & Marketing where he spends his time mouthing off about all kinds of sports. He is also the play-by-play voice for the professional Ultimate Disc team the Chicago Wildfire of the American Ultimate Disc League. Dennis can be heard every Saturday on The Final Inspection on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee, Wis. talking NASCAR, and you can listen on the Radio.com app.
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