NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin battles Martin Truex Jr. for top spot


It’s time for the NASCAR Cup Series to head to Michigan, where the talk is often about the car manufacturers, since this is the home for both Ford and Chevrolet.

Two Toyotas top my list this week with three Toyotas sitting in this week’s top 10. Not surprisingly, Chevrolet has the most on this list with four while Ford occupies three spots.

Here’s a look at how they rank after Richmond: 

1. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: 1): Truex finished seventh at Richmond as his team tried a different strategy than the rest of the field. It didn’t work but maybe they learned something for later in the season. 

[NASCAR Cup drivers discuss fair vs. foul in light of Denny Hamlin-Kyle Larson incident]

2. Denny Hamlin (LW: 3): Hamlin backed up his win at Pocono with a second-place finish at Richmond. Hamlin has three consecutive top-10 finishes and four top-5s in his last eight starts. Hamlin, who had a 25-point penalty earlier this year, sits 39 points behind Truex for the regular-season championship.

3. Kyle Busch (LW: 6): Busch’s third-place finish at Richmond — as well as the fact he started second — is a good sign for the team’s short-track program, which has appeared to be its weakest link. If the team can make another tweak for a little more speed, Busch has to feel good if he can make the championship round at Phoenix.

4. Kyle Larson (LW: 2): It wasn’t a good day at Richmond as Larson finished 19th. There should be one consolation — none of the Hendrick cars were good with Chase Elliott finishing the best in 13th.

5. William Byron (LW: 4): Byron had contact with another car on pit road early in the race at Richmond and that pretty much ruined his day as he finished 21st. His only top-10 finish in the last five races was his win at Atlanta.

NASCAR Cup Series: Cook Out 400 highlights

NASCAR Cup Series: Cook Out 400 highlights

6. Christopher Bell (LW: 5): A speeding penalty hurt on a day when he wasn’t great anyway at Richmond as Bell finished 20th. He has just one top-10 in his last five starts.

7. Kevin Harvick (LW: 8): Harvick continues to put together solid runs as he finished 10th at Richmond — on a day when Stewart-Haas Racing placed three cars in the top 10. Harvick has had three consecutive top-10 finishes.

8. Ross Chastain (LW: 7): Chastain has just one top-20 finish in the five races since his win at Nashville. This team appears to be struggling as it finished 24th at Richmond. That probably shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise since he was 23rd at New Hampshire.

9. Chris Buescher (LW: NR): Earning his first win of the season at Richmond, Buescher continues to impress by having steady speed. He had never led a lap at Richmond before Sunday and he didn’t just lead laps, he outraced Hamlin on a late restart to secure the victory.

“I was really hopeful this could be the one to turn the page for us,” said Chris Buescher after his Richmond win

10. Brad Keselowski (LW: 10): While Keselowski saw his shot at the win slip away with a mistake getting into his pit box, he still has three top-six finishes in his last four starts. His 102 laps led were the first time he led more than 10 laps this year at a non-superspeedway track.

On the verge: Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Ty Gibbs, Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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