NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Busch lands top spot after Fontana win
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Busch lands top spot after Fontana win

Updated Feb. 28, 2023 2:15 p.m. ET

After a superspeedway and one intermediate race, trying to rank drivers still can be a little bit of a guessing game.

Teams will have a much better gauge of where they stand after Las Vegas (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) and Phoenix in the next couple of weeks and then Atlanta and Circuit of the Americas the two weeks following those.

But here is a look at how I would rank NASCAR Cup Series drivers at the moment:

1. Kyle Busch


Busch has been a contender to win in every race he has run. His win at Fontana was No. 61 of his career but his first with Richard Childress Racing. It likely will be the first of many. Just how fast was he at Fontana? He had a speeding penalty early in the race and still swiftly rebounded to race among the leaders.

2. Ross Chastain

Chastain appears to be building on his 2022 breakout season as he led 91 laps on his way to a third at Fontana. He swept the stages at Fontana and won a stage at Daytona. He is one of only four drivers to finish in the top 10 in both races to open the season (Chastain, Logano, Bowman and Suárez) and he has six consecutive top-10 finishes dating back to last year. 

3. Joey Logano

The defending Cup champ fell off a little bit during Fontana, where he finished 10th, but remains a factor. Whether he is in championship form could be determined this coming weekend as the series visits Las Vegas, where Logano won last October to set up his championship run.

4. Kevin Harvick

Harvick is looking to make the most of his final season. He ran in the top 10 throughout the race Sunday at Fontana, the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to have a good day. Whether he is primed for a good season could come this week — he was 12th in both Vegas races last year, and he needs to be better than that to be a factor.

5. Chase Elliott

The second-place finish at Fontana is a good sign as Elliott struggled at intermediate tracks during the second half of last season. He was 21st at Las Vegas in October, and if he runs better there this weekend, this team will have a ton of confidence.

6. Austin Dillon

He upped his game in 2022 and appears to be doing so again in 2023 as he has shown about as much speed as his new teammate Busch. Last year, his main issue was failing to finish races as he had eight races where he didn’t finish. If he continues to finish races this year, he can expect to eclipse his personal best of 13 top-10s in a season.

7. Daniel Suárez

Suárez is showing impressive speed as, like Busch, he rallied from a speeding penalty for a solid finish. He finished in the top five in each of the stages — third in the first stage, fifth in the second stage and fourth taking the checkered flag. He has opened the season with a seventh and a fourth.

8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The Daytona 500 winner was more than respectable at Fontana as he finished 12th. He said prior to the race that he wants to try to compete as if he doesn’t have a win this year, and he wants to average a 15th-place finish. His best average finish in a season is 17.1.

9. Alex Bowman

Bowman is third in the point standings by not making mistakes and posting a pair of top-10s in the opening two races. He also has a contract through 2025, so he can go out and race without worry.

10. Denny Hamlin

Hamlin was the only Toyota in the top 10 at Fontana as he finished sixth. He ran in the top 10 all day, and while his goal would be to running higher, he can look at his teammates and know when they go to better tracks for Toyota, he should find himself in the top five.

Drivers on the verge: Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson

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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