Ryan Blaney added his first career victory on Sunday in the Pocono 400 and locked himself into the playoffs. With the bubble shrinking for drivers to race their way in through points, wins are becoming even more important.
Check out the NASCAR power rankings after an exciting finish at Pocono Raceway:
The points lead shrunk to one point for Truex after Pocono but he’s in good shape for the playoffs with 18 playoff points. He’s consistently won stages and looks to be working the new racing format better than anyone.
After sliding back from his consistent top 10 finishes, Larson rebound nicely with a second at Dover and a seventh at Pocono. He scored his first win at Michigan last year and should be a favorite again this weekend.
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Kevin Harvick, +1
Harvick’s posted a top-10 finish in seven of the past eight races. He nearly ran down Blaney for the win at Pocono. With the way he’s running over the past two months, that win shouldn’t be too far away from him.
Brad Keselowski, +2
After two horrendous finishes through no fault of his own, Keselowski posted a respectable fifth-place finish to stop the bleeding. He still has the third-most playoff points and sits fifth in the standings.
Jimmie Johnson, -2
Johnson took a vicious hit at Pocono one week after scoring another win at Dover. He hibernated in the summer last season before turning it on in the playoffs. His 15 playoff points are second behind Truex (18).
Kyle Busch, +1
The wins keep slipping through Busch’s grasps. The good news is that another top-10 performance has Kyle comfortably inside the playoff bubble. He’s getting damn tired of not closing out a race with a win, though.
Jamie McMurray, -3
McMurray couldn’t avoid fluids dropped by Johnson at Pocono and smacked the wall with a ton of force. Without a win or any playoff points, McMurray can’t post several poor performances or he’ll find himself on the outside looking in for the postseason.
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Kurt Busch, +3
The elder Busch brother went through a rough stretch but had his Daytona 500 win to fall back on early in the season. Now, he’s come out the other side with consistent top-10 finishes in five of the last eight races.
Denny Hamlin, no change
Hamlin’s starting to find speed in his No. 11 JGR Toyota. He’s running nearly 10 spots better in the past seven races (10.28 average finish) compared to the first seven (20).
Kenseth currently sits outside of the playoff cutoff but has shown speed since grabbing the pole at Richmond six weeks ago. It isn’t win or go home time for the No. 20 team but another surprise winner will put Kenseth behind the eight ball.
Ryan Blaney, +3
Blaney scored a very popular win in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford on Sunday at Pocono and locks himself into the postseason. After finishing 24th or worse in five of the past six races, it was a much needed celebration for the second-year driver.
The downward spiral continues for Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. After his win was encumbered at Richmond, he’s finished 21st or worse in the next five races and now sits on the playoff bubble.
Chase Elliott, +1
After a rough month of May, Elliott’s bounced back with strong finishes to start June. A fifth at Dover and eighth at Pocono has him heading to a track that he nearly won at last season. We could see our third first-time winner of the season at Michigan.
LAT ImagesRusty Jarrett
Daniel Suarez, +1
An expected rough start because of a sharp learning curve has quickly slid behind Suarez. He’s finished 19th or better in the past eight races.
Erik Jones, +2
Jones currently leads the Rookie of the Year battle over Suarez and Ty Dillon. While Suarez methodically works his car through the field, Jones battles near the front and occasionally uses his stuff up too early. A third-place finish at Pocono serves as his career-best finish.
In recent weeks, Bayne’s performance has slipped a bit from consistently posting finishes near the top 15. He’s finished 21st the past two races and is approaching the territory where he’ll need a win to make the playoffs.
Ty Dillon, +2
The younger Dillon brother nearly made magic happen at Dover before getting spun in overtime and finishing 14th. He’s consistently outperformed expectations and finished inside the top 20 nine times so far this season. That’s already three more top-20s than Casey Mears had in the No. 13 Chevy in 2016.
Chris Buescher, +2
Buescher’s average finish has improved nearly four spots (22.6) from his 2016 numbers (26.1) with Front Row Motorsports. He’s been in the top 20 six times this season, including five of the past six races.
Kasey Kahne, -2
Kahne looked to be climbing toward his old form at the start of the season but found out he’s on a roller coaster and currently heading down the big drop. For the third week in a row, Kahne was involved in an accident, posting finishes of 35th (Charlotte and Pocono) and 17th at Dover.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., -2
Dale Jr. hasn’t had much luck in his farewell season. A missed gear cost him an engine Friday and Sunday in Pocono. He still has some favorable tracks heading into the summer but it’ll take a heroic effort to contend for a championship in his final year.
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Paul Menard, no change
Menard holds onto our final spot over drivers like Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger, and Danica Patrick. He’s continued to hang around 25th in the points standings and our power rankings.