NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin climbs after Pocono win
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin climbs after Pocono win

Published Jul. 25, 2023 10:37 a.m. ET

Martin Truex Jr.'s third-place finish at Pocono Raceway was enough for him to keep the top spot in my power rankings. And while Kyle Larson, in his words, got used up by Denny Hamlin late in the race, he'll stay at No. 2 on this list.

Here's a look at this week's power rankings with an analysis of where the drivers are so far this year earning playoff points. Playoff points are added to a driver's total at the start of each playoff round (except the championship race), which gives drivers a potential buffer to advance on points if they don't win in the three-race playoff round.

Drivers earn five playoff points for a race win and one for a stage win. The regular-season champ gets 15 playoff points while second gets 10, and then the rest of the top 10 on an 8-to-1 scale. The playoff points listed here take into consideration their current regular-season standing, which obviously can fluctuate. 


1. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: 1): Truex is the current regular-season points leader with a 30-point edge on William Byron and 55 points on Hamlin. At this point, Truex would have 33 playoff points, one more than Byron, if he can hold on to the lead. Truex has three race wins and three stage wins for 18 guaranteed playoff points.

[NASCAR Cup Series playoff bubble: Who's likely in and who needs a win?]

2. Kyle Larson (LW: 2): Larson would be fifth in playoff points with 17 if the regular season ended now. That's why Larson was so frustrated with Hamlin after Pocono — Larson didn't just lose the five playoff points, but by finishing 20th, he also lost 23 regular-season points. If he had those regular-season points, he'd be fifth in the regular-season standings and not seventh. Larson has two race wins and three stage wins for 13 guaranteed playoff points. 

3. Denny Hamlin (LW: 5): Hamlin would be tied with Kyle Busch for third with 22 playoff points, and obviously that win Sunday gave him a boost. While he has been fast this year, he hasn't racked up the stage wins. He has two race victories and has won four stages for 14 guaranteed playoff points.

Denny Hamlin responded to Kyle Larson saying that Sunday's move was like the one Hamlin pulled on Ross Chastain last year at Pocono.

4. William Byron (LW: 3): Byron knows he needs to do everything he can to get by Truex for the regular-season title as that would give him at least 37 playoff points. Even without it, he currently would have 32 playoff points. Byron has a series-best four wins and series-best seven stage wins for a series-best 22 guaranteed playoff points. Why isn't it 27? Because part of his penalty from Richmond was a reduction of five playoff points.

5. Christopher Bell (LW: 7): Bell would currently rank seventh in playoff points with 14, and that's thanks to currently sitting fourth in the standings. With one race win and just two stage wins, he has only seven guaranteed playoff points.

6. Kyle Busch (LW: 4): Busch would have 22 playoff points, tied with Hamlin for third overall. While Busch has three race victories, he has just two stage wins for 17 guaranteed playoff points.

7. Ross Chastain (LW: 6): Chastain would rank sixth with 16 playoff points if the season ended today. He has one race win and five stage victories for 10 guaranteed playoff points. What should concern Chastain is he won three stages in the first two races and hasn't won a stage in the last seven events.

8. Kevin Harvick (LW: NR): Nothing describes Harvick's season better than the fact he would rank 12th in playoff points with four. He hasn't won a race and has just one stage win for one guaranteed playoff point.

9. Tyler Reddick (LW: NR): Reddick is 11th in the point standings, 12 points behind 10th-place Joey Logano, so he wouldn't earn any bonus points for a regular-season finish unless he rallies. He has one race win and three stage wins for eight guaranteed playoff points. 

Tyler Reddick described what happened in the incident with Austin Dillon at Pocono.

10. Brad Keselowski (LW: 8): Keselowski has won two stages this year for two playoff points. He is 15 points out of the top 10 so he needs some top-10s likely to earn any bonus for regular-season finish.

On the verge: Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, 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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