NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson back on top after Chicago
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson back on top after Chicago

Published Jul. 4, 2023 11:01 a.m. ET

The Chicago street course was new and unlike anything NASCAR Cup Series drivers have ever done and not all that applicable to what they'll do the rest of the season.

Yes, there were left and right turns, but the narrow nature of the course, not to mention about half of the race Sunday being run in wet conditions, doesn't make it all that indicative of how a driver's season has gone or where it is going.

Kyle Larson, who was second after the second stage but then lost track position when NASCAR decided the race would be 75 laps instead of 100 laps due to darkness, moves to the top spot after a fourth-place finish. Martin Truex Jr., who was atop these rankings, was fast but spun late in the event, which was won by Shane van Gisbergen in his first career Cup start.

Here are the rankings going into Atlanta this weekend:


1. Kyle Larson (Last week: 2): Larson's average finish this year of 15.2 is his worst since 2014. But there's a good reason for that — he has five races this year when he hasn't finished. He has led 588 laps this year, almost as many as he did all of last year (635).

2. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 1): Looking at his stats, what is interesting is that Truex's average starting spot is 12.9 and his average finish is 12.1. That signifies someone who is incredibly steady. His average finish would be a little higher if it wasn't for his season-worst 32nd-place finish Sunday.

3. Ross Chastain (LW: 3): Chastain is third in the standings, 18 points behind leader Truex. He lost a good opportunity to gain some ground Sunday as he struggled all weekend and finished 22nd. Some could blame getting back to work after the euphoria of the Nashville victory a week earlier, but it probably was just Chastain just not being comfortable on the street course.

4. Kyle Busch (LW: 5): Busch made a splash in Chicago — literally, as he hit the tire barriers in Turn 6 in the opening laps, which created a huge spray of rainwater from inside the tires. But Busch did what Busch does — he rallied and thanks to some effective pit strategy, he finished fifth. He still would like a little more consistency in his performance but the fact he has three wins this year gives him time to figure things out.

Fast Thoughts with Bob Pockrass

Will NASCAR continue to do street races following Chicago?

5. Denny Hamlin (LW: 4): Hamlin won the pole for the Chicago street course but ended up 11th. He had contact with Alex Bowman at one point and then lost track position when the race length was changed. He's a top-5 contender every week but so far has finished top-10 "just" seven times in the 18 races this year.

6. Christopher Bell (LW: 7): Bell swept the stages but the pit strategy with the race length adjusted for darkness bit him at Chicago. He was certainly impressive in leading the 37 laps but came home in 18th. Whether it is any consolation for one of those "they knew you were there" days is debatable.

7. William Byron (LW: 6): Byron had a long weekend in Chicago with a couple of incidents but still finished 13th. That wasn't bad all things considered, but with three wins this year, all that bad isn't a great day.

Grant Park 220 highlights

NASCAR made history Sunday night with the Grant Park 220, the first-ever street race in Chicago.

8. Chase Elliott (LW: 9): Elliott finished third on a day where he took advantage of pit strategy and track position and then used his road-racing skill to pretty much hold his spot. Not a bad day as he continues to move up the standings, sitting 55 points behind the current playoff cutoff.

9. Joey Logano (LW: NR): Logano managed an eighth-place finish, continuing to make the most out of a day where it didn't appear he would run that well. What has to concern Logano is he hasn't led laps in the last six races. That could change at Atlanta.

10. Ryan Blaney (LW: 8): Blaney has had three consecutive weekends of bad races — 31st, 36th and 33rd. But he remains on this list because he had been one of the most consistent drivers in the series over the previous 50 races.

On the verge: Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman, Ty Gibbs, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick.

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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