NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron vaults to the top with 3 season wins
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron vaults to the top with 3 season wins

Updated Apr. 9, 2024 3:01 p.m. ET

William Byron vaults to the top of the power rankings after his third win of the year.

That's three wins in eight races, so he is the definitive No. 1, correct?

Maybe. Maybe not. His wins have come at a superspeedway (Daytona), a road course (Circuit of the Americas in Austin) and a short track (Martinsville). How he races at intermediate tracks is still his biggest question. He finished 10th at Las Vegas (where he led 15 laps) in the one semi-banked 1.5-mile track race this year.

The next intermediate track is this weekend in Texas — where Byron won last year. Going through the rundown of this week's power rankings, here's a look at the biggest question facing each of these drivers after eight races in the season.


1. William Byron (Last Week: 4)

The Hendrick Motorsports driver has shown he can win races, now having nine victories in the last 42 races. He has shown he can handle adversity, as he did Sunday when he started 18th. Short tracks weren't his best last year, so he should be solid on the intermediates — he won three last year (Vegas, Darlington, Texas) but that would be the one question left to determine whether he will be a championship contender.

2. Kyle Larson (LW: 3)

Larson's biggest question is if he can capitalize on races where he can win. It wouldn't be difficult to argue he could have won Sunday, but he lost his track position when he couldn't out-restart Joey Logano to start the second stage. The Hendrick driver has started from the pole in the last two races and went home with finishes of third and second. That's extremely solid but not a trophy.

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3. Denny Hamlin (LW: 2)

Hamlin's biggest question — until he wins a championship — is and always will be whether he and his Joe Gibbs Racing team can win and execute in the races where it means the most at the end of the year. He has five finishes outside the top-10 this year despite leading laps in every race. Hamlin and his team should have confidence, but the finishes could allow for a little doubt.

4. Christopher Bell (LW: 1)

Like Byron, Bell's biggest question would be the intermediate tracks. He spun early at Las Vegas, where he started 10th and finished 33rd. The other possible question would be just handling the ups and downs — the JGR driver had a downer at Martinsville as a loose lug nut resulted in him having to pit and lose laps.

5. Chase Elliott (LW: 7)

Elliott's biggest question could be where has this speed been after a fifth-place finish at Richmond and then a third at Martinsville? The Hendrick driver had not finished in the top-5 in 16 consecutive races before Richmond. If he shows this improvement week after week, he will snap his 42-race winless streak relatively soon.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 5)

Truex had a streak of five consecutive top-10s end at Martinsville. He has consistent speed, and his biggest question is much like his JGR teammate Hamlin, and that is how many races will he or his team feel like a win slips through their hands?

7. Ryan Blaney (LW: 9)

Blaney is the top Ford — and the only Ford driver — on this list, and that is the biggest question for the Team Penske driver: Can the Ford teams get their cars at the level of the Hendrick Chevys and the JGR Toyotas? His teammate Joey Logano seems to be finding his groove, and that should give the organization a boost.

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8. Alex Bowman (LW: 10)

Bowman has three top-5s and four top-10s this year — and then he has four finishes outside the top-15. So the question for Bowman is will this year be more feast or famine? And that is a question often asked for Bowman, whose results can be mercurial.

9. Ty Gibbs (LW: 6)

Gibbs — who finished 16th at Richmond and 19th at Martinsville the last two weeks — will have to wait a couple of months to know if the short tracks will be his biggest challenge as the next short tracks will come next month at Dover and then in June at Iowa and New Hampshire. His JGR teammates have been strong at these tracks, and he shouldn't have too much to worry about.

10. Tyler Reddick (LW: 8)

Reddick has five top-10s in the last six races. But he has led more than four laps in only one race. So his big question is does he need just a little more speed or a little more handling to consistently battle up front in his 23XI Racing entry?

Dropped out: None

On the verge: Chris Buescher, Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace

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


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