NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson leaps to top with Vegas win
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson leaps to top with Vegas win

Published Mar. 5, 2024 12:25 p.m. ET

Kyle Larson's domination at Las Vegas vaults him to the top of the power rankings not just because he dominated in one race but because of the several tracks that are relatively similar to Las Vegas on the schedule.

Oh, and Larson also sits atop the NASCAR Cup Series standings.

Now the series heads to Phoenix (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX), always a big race in the spring because this is the track where the championship will be decided. So yeah, it's early, but Power Rankings seems like a fun place to write about the possibility of these drivers being among the four vying for the title in eight months.

That championship analysis didn't determine their ranking (the first three races did).


After three races, here's my list:

1.  Kyle Larson (Last Week: 4)

Few would be surprised if Larson makes another Championship 4, which would be his third in the past four years. He knows he left several wins — and playoff points — on the table last year, and if the Hendrick Motorsports driver can capitalize on those opportunities this season, he likely wouldn't have to sweat too much during the early playoff rounds.

2. Ryan Blaney (LW: 2)

The defending Cup champion is showing he is the strongest Ford on the track. Will that be enough for the Team Penske driver? It should, considering Blaney is carrying much more confidence and less of an aura of angst around him this year.

3. William Byron (LW: 1)

Byron will keep that chip on his shoulder until he returns to the championship race with another shot at the title. Phoenix might be most important to Byron, who was frustrated after the championship race last year when the Hendrick driver seemed to have the best car early in the race but couldn't keep pace with Blaney and Larson at the end.

William Byron speaks on the huge bag that landed on his grille during the Pennzoil 400

4. Denny Hamlin (LW: 5)

Hamlin was in the mix for a little bit at Vegas. This Joe Gibbs Racing team will be patient in learning and trying to make gains with the new Toyota body. It's a little too early to tell if he will make a Championship 4 run.

5. Ross Chastain (LW: 6)

Chastain won at Phoenix last November but had already been knocked out of the playoffs. Chastain is oozing confidence. That could go a long way for him to contend. Trackhouse Racing and Chastain haven't forgotten coming up just short in 2022.

6. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)

Busch and the Richard Childress Racing team are just still a little too inconsistent to envision him racing for a title at Phoenix. Thankfully, he has time to find that consistency.

Tyler Reddick explains why he wasn't happy with his second-place finish at Vegas

7. Tyler Reddick (LW: NR)

There's probably little doubt after watching Vegas that Reddick should make it to the Round of 8 (the semifinal round). But the margin of error for the 23XI Racing driver to make it to the final is slim.

8. Bubba Wallace (LW: 8)

Wallace was the only driver to have two top-10s (both fifth-place finishes) in the opening two races before the disappointing lug nut issue at Vegas. The 23XI Racing driver would still be considered a long shot to make the championship round.

9. Ty Gibbs (LW: NR)

Gibbs is steadily improving but still seeks his first playoff appearance (that should happen this year), so getting to the Championship 4 would be a big ask for the Joe Gibbs Racing hotshot.

Ty Gibbs on how he managed to secure a fifth-place finish in Vegas without first gear

10. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: NR)

It would be silly to count Truex out until he is. As a veteran with a Joe Gibbs Racing team that has proven it can win and also proven it can stumble, Truex has the mentality needed to make it to the championship.

On the verge: Christopher Bell,  Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, 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.


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