Joey Logano made history on Monday after winning the first Cup race on dirt in 51 years. Here are the NASCAR power rankings leaving Bristol Motor Speedway.
he 2021 season is underway as drivers look to compete for the NASCAR Cup Series championship. Some may say that this season could be the, “best season ever,” and if it is anything like it is hyped up to be, that could be true. Let’s take a look at some of the changes below.
NASCAR drivers entered this season with many new things ahead. They have a brand new schedule that sees the additions of Bristol on dirt, Nashville Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Road America, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. There is also a higher abundance of seat movement with the notables of Kyle Larson going to Hendrick Motorsports and Bubba Wallace to 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.
The NextGen car is also poised to come out after the conclusion of the 2021 season. It was supposed to come out this season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed back one year. The date for a new engine was also pushed back and is currently to be determined.
Let’s dive into our updated NASCAR power rankings after the seventh race of the season at Bristol on Dirt.
1. Denny Hamlin (Previous Ranking: 2) – (Standings: 1)
- 2021 statistics: Zero wins, six top-5 finishes, six top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 4.7.
Denny Hamlin was so close to pulling off his first win of the 2021 season at Bristol on Dirt, but poor track conditions on the top-line ruined his opportunity on the last restart of the race. Hamlin brought it home in third place after a strong day of overcoming conditions and mayhem. Hamlin goes into the off-weekend as the only driver with over four top-5 finishes with six total.
- 2021 ride: No. 11 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2. Kyle Larson (Previous Ranking: 1) – (Standings: 4)
- 2021 statistics: One win, three top-5 finishes, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.9.
Kyle Larson was caught up in an unfortunate wreck in Stage 1 when Christopher Bell moved up to the high line and couldn’t pick up any grip off the exit of Turn 2. Larson finished in 29th place, which is his worst finish of the 2021 season. Larson has been arguably the fastest car this year, but some unfortunate events such as speeding penalties and wrecks have derailed him from having the type of statistics as Denny Hamlin.
- 2021 ride: No. 5 (Hendrick Motorsports)
3. Martin Truex, Jr. (Previous Ranking: 3) – (Standings: 3)
- 2021 statistics: One win, two top-five finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 10.7.
Martin Truex Jr. didn’t have the finish to show for how good his car was on Monday evening, but it was really good. Truex led a race-high 126 laps and won Stage 1 to earn a playoff point. However, on the final restart, Truex’s car went straight into the corner and he was unable to turn, thus, giving him a 19th place finish. Truex has been hot as of late and going into Martinsville two weeks from now will be great for his chances of another win.
- 2021 ride: No. 19 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)
4. Joey Logano (Previous Ranking: 5) – (Standings: 2)
- 2021 statistics: One win, three top-5 finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 9.4.
Joey Logano did what no other driver in the NASCAR Cup Series has done in the last 51 years: win a dirt race at NASCAR’s top level. Logano led 61 laps and won Stage 2 after being a top-5 car to begin the race. The poor track conditions made it very difficult to pass, including on the single-file restarts. This played exactly into Logano’s hands to win his first race of the 2021 season and one of the most anticipated races of the year.
- 2021 ride: No. 22 Ford (Team Penske)
5. William Byron (Previous Ranking: 7) – (Standings: 6)
- 2021 statistics: One win, one top-five finish, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 12.9.
William Byron has run consistently in the top-10 positions for five straight races now and he sniffed the top-5 positions on Monday evening with a sixth-place finish. Byron isn’t known to be a dirt expert, but he did win the iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Bristol on Dirt, which in all fairness, wasn’t anything like we saw on Monday. Byron has been really good as of late and is cementing himself as Hendrick Motorsports’ second-best driver right now.
- 2021 ride: No. 24 Chevrolet (Hendrick Motorsports)
6. Ryan Blaney (Previous Ranking: 8) – (Standings: 7)
- 2021 statistics: One win, two top-5 finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 14.0.
Ryan Blaney wasn’t the best car, but he had a consistent top-10 running car the whole race and brought it home in eighth-place. Blaney has been better lately after a poor start to the season when he didn’t get a top-10 finish until the fourth race of the season. Blaney now has four straight top-10 finishes and will continue to ride his momentum into Martinsville two weeks from now.
- 2021 ride: No. 12 Ford (Team Penske)
7. Brad Keselowski (Previous Ranking: 4) – (Standings: 5)
- 2021 statistics: Zero wins, three top-5 finishes, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.3.
Brad Keselowski isn’t a known dirt racer, which we found out on Monday when he was non-existent the whole race. Keselowski found his way to 11th place at the end of the day after spending the majority of the day around 15th to 20th place. He hasn’t been that great the last two races at Atlanta and Bristol on Dirt, so an off-weekend won’t be terrible to shake this off and move forward.
- 2021 ride: No. 2 Ford (Team Penske)
8. Kevin Harvick (Previous Ranking: 6) – (Standings: 8)
- 2021 statistics: Zero wins, two top-5 finishes, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 9.4.
Kevin Harvick probably finished where he expected to finish in 15th place, but he was one of many drivers who enjoyed racing on dirt. Harvick enjoyed the weekend, which was a surprise knowing how he felt beforehand. However, Harvick is still struggling to muster up a dominant race and has been finished in double-digit positions three of the last four races. He will look to turn it around at a track he struggled at last year in the playoffs.
- 2021 ride: No. 4 Ford (Stewart-Haas Racing)
9. Christopher Bell (Previous Ranking: 9) – (Standings: 10)
- 2021 statistics: One win, one top-5 finish, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 15.4.
Christopher Bell had one of the fastest cars in Stage 1, but he soon found himself in the garage after he wrecked while running the top in Turns 1 and 2. Bell, one of the better dirt racers in the garage, was the victim of very poor management of the track after the cushion thinned out in Stage 1. Bell had speed and not everything should be judged on a finishing position with a wild card race like this one.
- 2021 ride: No. 20 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)
10. Chase Elliott (Previous Ranking: 11) – (Standings: 9)
- 2021 statistics: Zero wins, two top-5 finishes, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 14.7.
Chase Elliott is not the greatest dirt driver in NASCAR, but he had a consistent day that resulted in a 10th place finish. Elliott was around the 10th position most of the day and didn’t have that much speed compared to his three other teammates. Elliott will go to a track in two weeks that helped propel him to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in the 2020 season.
- 2021 ride: No. 9 Chevrolet (Hendrick Motorsports)