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NASCAR Power Rankings: Ross Chastain rises to top spot after Las Vegas
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Ross Chastain rises to top spot after Las Vegas

Updated Mar. 7, 2023 3:11 p.m. ET

It is easy to expect some significant movement in these rankings as NASCAR heads to different styles of tracks for the first time in the season.

While Las Vegas and Fontana are both classified as intermediate tracks, they are two very different tracks, with the 1.5-mile Vegas more comparable to other tracks on the circuit as opposed to the unique 2-mile weathered surface of Fontana.

With that in mind, here are my power rankings following Las Vegas:

1. Ross Chastain (Last week: 2)


Chastain finished 12th at Las Vegas, but none of the top-five drivers in last week’s rankings had a great finish. He appeared the strongest, finishing third in the first stage and seventh in the second stage. The Trackhouse driver was sixth before the final restart and he got shuffled back there in overtime. An added benefit: His Trackhouse teammate, Daniel Suárez, finished top 10. This team seems to have strength across its camp.

2. Kyle Busch (LW: 1)

Busch was off a little bit at Vegas as he finished 14th, not something to panic about but certainly something the Richard Childress Racing team will need to take a close look at before the next 1.5-mile race. The team seemed to have an idea of what it needed to do but indicated to Busch on the radio that it wasn’t going to be an in-race adjustment to make the fix.

3. Kevin Harvick (LW: 4)

Harvick found a way to finish in the top 10 at Vegas as he was ninth. The Fords overall seemed to struggle, and Harvick is a master at taking a car that might not be the best and getting a finish better than it should. Plus, Phoenix has historically been a strong track for him, so he should be looking forward to a return there this week.

4. Joey Logano (LW: 3)

Logano showed some speed in winning the pole at Las Vegas but left Sin City wondering where that speed went. During the race, he tried to force the issue going three-wide on drivers who weren’t going to let him do that unscathed. Much like Harvick, he still has to feel good going to Phoenix, where he dominated the race in winning the 2022 Cup title in November.

5. Alex Bowman (LW: 9)

Bowman showed solid speed at Vegas, and that isn’t surprising — he won there a year ago. He now sits second in the overall standings and he is certainly driving steady this year — having finishes of fifth, eighth and third in the first three races. What makes that even bigger is that he missed five races late last season with a concussion. 

6. Kyle Larson (LW: NR)

Larson had a miserable first two weeks with an accident at Daytona and then a throttle issue at Fontana. He finally had a race go well at Vegas ... but not as well as he would have liked. He was on his way to the victory until the caution with a couple of laps to go and then losing a spot on pit road in overtime, putting him in position to chase teammate William Byron. He had to settle for second place.

7. Denny Hamlin (LW: 10)

Hamlin ran in the top 10 all day at Vegas, where he was third when the late caution came out and restarted on the outside of the second row. He got involved in a little bit of a tangle at the end and wound up 11th. But he showed he can hang near the leaders, and for a Toyota driver, that was a good sign Sunday.

8. William Byron (LW: NR)

Byron finished 25th or worse in his first two races so for him to go out and sweep the stages and lead 176 laps at Las Vegas to earn the victory was a huge boost for a driver who was riding a 30-race winless streak. Certainly want to see a little more consistency before ranking him higher.

9. Daniel Suárez (LW: 7)

Suárez has cranked out three consecutive top-10s to start the season with a seventh, fourth and then a 10th in Las Vegas. He wasn’t as fast at Vegas as he was a week earlier at Fontana, but he was good enough to carry momentum.

10. Christopher Bell (LW: NR)

Bell finished in the top five in both stages and vaulted from ninth to fifth in the overtime for a strong performance at Vegas. The concern he has is probably the same as his teammate Hamlin, as the Toyotas seem a tick behind.

On the verge: Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., 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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