NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell rise after Richmond
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell rise after Richmond

Updated Apr. 4, 2023 1:57 p.m. ET

Kyle Larson won Sunday at Richmond Raceway and vaulted in the power rankings, but his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron keeps the top spot as he did lead a race-high 117 laps.

Both Larson and Byron had interim crew chiefs as the Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs served their third race of four-race suspensions after NASCAR confiscated their louvers at Phoenix. The crew chiefs are allowed to remain in contact with the teams during the race — they just can’t be on the team radio. They also can’t be in the garage area or pit road or the spotters stand.

As the rankings are here this week based on performance, I’ve included an analysis of the driver-crew chief combination for each driver.

1. William Byron (Last week: 1)


Byron’s regular crew chief is Rudy Fugle and this has the potential to be one of the all-time great driver-crew chief combinations. In their third season together in Cup, they have five victories and made the playoffs in each of their first two years — showing the same chemistry and confidence in each other that allowed them to win seven truck races in 2016. Fugle guided two drivers to titles in the truck series — Erik Jones in 2015 and Christopher Bell in 2017.

[NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Larson's first win of season caps positive week for Hendrick]

2. Kyle Larson (LW: 7) 

It was a redemption of sorts for Larson interim crew chief Kevin Meendering to win at Richmond as Meendering did not have the best experience as crew chief for Jimmie Johnson for a half-season in 2019. Larson gets crew chief Cliff Daniels back in a week and Daniels does a great job explaining to Larson the situation around him and what he needs. They won the 2021 Cup title and 13 races together since Larson joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. This also has the potential to be a strong relationship for several years.

3. Ross Chastain (LW: 4)

Chastain and crew chief Phil Surgen remained together when Trackhouse Racing bought Chip Ganassi Racing, and that loyalty is paying off. They finished second in the Cup standings together last year with two wins and Surgen seems to know what Chastain needs to get the most out of a car. 

4. Christopher Bell (LW: 6) 

Bell has incredible confidence in his crew chief, Adam Stevens — and he should. Stevens won two Cup titles with Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2019 but then was moved over to Bell after Busch and Stevens had different ideas of ways to improve the team following a disappointing 2020 season. Bell and Stevens have won four races together since 2021 and made the championship four last year. Stevens has 32 career Cup victories as a crew chief.

5. Alex Bowman (LW: 2) 

Bowman is in his first year with crew chief Blake Harris, who has the least experience as a crew chief as anyone on this list. Harris had a strong season last year as crew chief for Michael McDowell, and Bowman sitting atop the standings shows he is using the tools at Hendrick to his advantage. The former Martin Truex Jr. car chief still seeks his first win as a Cup crew chief and his true test will come when he is in charge in the playoffs for the first time this year (assuming Bowman makes the playoffs). Harris is viewed as someone with great potential as a crew chief. Will the results follow?

6. Kevin Harvick (LW: 9)

Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers have the longest driver-crew chief tenure in the garage as they are in their 10th year together (and final year together as Harvick will retire from Cup racing after this season). Few can argue with their success — the 2014 Cup title and 37 victories. When they were paired together, Childers had only won three races as a crew chief, all at Michael Waltrip Racing.

7. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)

Busch was paired with experienced crew chief Randall Burnett when he made his move to Richard Childress Racing. Burnett’s crew chief career appeared possibly over after working with AJ Allmendinger at JTG Daugherty Racing in 2016 and seven races in 2017. But he won six Xfinity races and the series title with Tyler Reddick at RCR in 2019 and they moved to Cup together for a relatively successful next three seasons. 

8. Tyler Reddick (LW: 5) 

23XI Racing hired Billy Scott as crew chief following the 2021 season at the request of Kurt Busch, who had worked with Scott at Stewart-Haas Racing. Scott was known to be a smart crew chief but had only one victory in six years at MWR and SHR. He earned one win with Busch last year — and has one with Reddick this year — and appears to be coming into his own with a driver who has the potential to battle for wins on a weekly basis.

9. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: NR)

Truex is in his fourth year with James Small as his crew chief. They have won five times together, but Truex has never seemed to have the magic with Small that he had previously with Cole Pearn. That possibly is an unfair criticism as it likely would have occurred with anyone as the Truex-Pearn relationship seemed truly special (Pearn opted to retire after the 2019 season). Of all the driver-crew chief relationships, this one really needs a victory as Truex is winless in his last 51 starts.

10. Joey Logano (LW: NR)

Logano and crew chief Paul Wolfe have won nine races and the 2022 title together since being paired for the start of the 2020 season. Wolfe previously won 29 races and the 2012 title with Brad Keselowski. Of the crew chiefs on this list, Wolfe and Childers are the two who have significant driving experience with Wolfe making 16 Xfinity starts from 2003-2005 and Childers making one start in the Xifnity Series in 2000 after a 1999 season where he ran the full season in NASCAR’s Southeast Series (formerly called the All-Pro Series).

On the verge: Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Ty Gibbs, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski

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.

Top NASCAR stories from FOX Sports:

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience
NASCAR Cup Series
Kyle Larson
Christopher Bell

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