NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin pushes for No. 1 with Bristol win
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin pushes for No. 1 with Bristol win

Published Mar. 19, 2024 12:30 p.m. ET

Finishing a lap down in a race might have a big impact on a driver moving up or down on this list. But not so after Bristol. Only five drivers finished on the lead lap Sunday, the fewest since Dover in June 2024.

Kyle Larson, who finished fifth despite a pit-road penalty after his crew let a tire get away from them during a pit stop in the final stage, remains atop the list.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to its first road course of the season this weekend as it visits the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. So we'll take a look at how each of these drivers performs on road courses and what his outlook for this season.

1.  Kyle Larson (Last Week: 1)


Larson has four career road-course wins, with the last coming in 2022 at Watkins Glen in a controversial late-race battle on a restart with Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott. He earned three top-10s on road courses last year. Larson's competition won't count him out on road courses, but he'll probably not be the favorite — he didn't lead any laps in road-course races in 2023.

2. Denny Hamlin (LW: 3)

Hamlin certainly isn't considered a road-course ace as his only victory in 51 starts came in 2016 at Watkins Glen, his best road course as he sat on the pole there and finished second last year. It was the only road-course race the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could feel good about in 2023.

3. Christopher Bell (LW: 5)

Bell has two wins on road courses, including his first career win (Daytona road course in 2021) and then the Charlotte road course in 2022. His best road-course finish last year was third at Watkins Glen. The JGR driver shouldn't be counted out at road courses but likely won't be a favorite.

4. Ryan Blaney (LW: 2)

Blaney has one road-course win in 31 starts as he captured the inaugural Charlotte road course race in 2018. His best finish on a road course last year was ninth at Watkins Glen. For the Team Penske driver, he'll need to execute if he wants to finish top-10.

5.  Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 8)

Truex has five wins on road courses, including the spanking he put on the field in leading 51 laps at Sonoma last year. He had two other top-10s on road courses. The JGR driver should be one of the favorites on road courses this year.

Martin Truex Jr. on his second-place finish at Bristol and not needing more sets of tires

6. Ty Gibbs (LW: 9)

Gibbs is having a great sophomore season, although he still seeks his first career victory. Could it come on a road course? For sure. Many analysts believe he is on the brink of a victory, and he is a stout road-course racer. He had four top-10s, including a fourth at the Charlotte road course, last year.

7. William Byron (LW: 4)

Byron has one road-course win, coming at Watkins Glen last year. He also sat on the pole and started fifth at COTA in 2023, so he should go back there this weekend feeling good — especially considering his last two road courses were the win at Watkins Glen and a second at the Charlotte road course.

8. Chase Elliott (LW: NR)

Elliott has seven career wins on road courses, but his most recent — in July 2021 at Road America — came prior to the Next Gen era. That doesn't mean he doesn't race well on road courses in the Next Gen car — he was second at Indianapolis, third at Chicago and fifth at Sonoma last year. He missed the COTA race a year ago because of his broken leg.

Chase Elliott on the horsepower debate and how it would impact racing

9. Ross Chastain (LW: 6)

Chastain earned his first career victory on a road course as he captured the COTA victory two years ago. The Trackhouse Racing driver is solid on road courses with nine top-10s in 24 starts. His tenacity can help as well as hurt him on the road courses, evidenced by his mix of finishes with three top-10s and three finishes of 17th or worse last year.

10. Tyler Reddick (LW: 7)

Reddick has won more races (three) on road courses than any other type of track. His wins came in 2022 at Road America (his first career win), later that season at Indianapolis and then COTA a year ago. He entered this year with three consecutive top-10s on road courses, and the 23XI Racing driver will be thinking bigger things than top 10.

On the verge: Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Daniel Suarez

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.


Get more from NASCAR Cup Series Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more