• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

2022 NASCAR Power Rankings: Michigan

ByBrenden Martin

Aug 2, 2022
Tyler Reddick celebrating in Victory Lane

1. Tyler Reddick

Reddick wins at Indy
James Gilbert | Getty Images

Coming off his second career NASCAR Cup Series win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Tyler Reddick has vaulted himself as the hottest Cup driver right now. Both his wins this season have come in July, adding to the momentum RCR has found in its young driver. The wins bookend the news that Reddick will be moving to 23XI Racing in 2024, showing that it hasn’t been a distraction for the team.

2. Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Chase Elliott entered the Indy Road Course with all the momentum on his side, the 2020 Cup Champion was riding a five-race streak of top-two finishes with wins at Nashville, Atlanta and Pocono before nearly extending that streak in the final laps at Indy. Elliott was in second when he was spun with three laps to go. Still finishing in 16th, Elliott extended his regular season points lead to 125.

3. Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

The most recent first-time winner in 2022, Christopher Bell rose before his New Hampshire domination by going above the cutline. A middling start to the season has been erased by him being the most consistent Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He earned his first-career stage win at Indy and a solid 12th-place finish.

4. Daniel Suárez

Daniel Suárez Indy Road Course
James Gilbert | Getty Images

One of the biggest surprises this year has been the consistency of Trackhouse Racing, and with Ross Chastain’s recent struggles of keeping his car clean, Daniel Suárez has been a breath of fresh air. Ever since his first career Cup win at Sonoma, Suárez has only finished outside the top 10 twice, coming 15th at Nashville the week after his win and was involved in the overtime chaos at Indy.

5. Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Bubba Wallace’s Achilles’ heel throughout his career has been road courses, but he may have gotten over that at Indy with a career-best fifth-place finish. Numerous pit crew issues have mired Wallace’s season, but he is quietly in the best stretch of his career. With a career-best starting position of fourth at New Hampshire where he finished third, an eighth-place finish at Pocono and now a top-five at Indy, Wallace is a sneaky pick to be the next winner this season.

6. Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

A piece of tape away from having three wins this season, Denny Hamlin has been all over the place this season. An exceptional month of May on top of an early-season win at Richmond has masked the issues JGR and Toyotas have had, but he has put himself in the right place at the right time in many instances. A marathon win in the Coca-Cola 600 and three poles means he can be a favorite to win if all things align.

7. Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson Indy Crash
Torey Fox | NASCAR Digital Media

If one were to say Kyle Larson would only have one win 22 races into the season, people would think they were crazy. His win at Auto Club way back in February seemed to be a continuation of his championship season, but other than that he hasn’t been in the limelight. His eight top-five finishes are among the most. A scary brake failure ended his race at Indy, but his fifth-place points standing and upcoming tracks make him a threat in any given race.

8. Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney
Logan Riely | Getty Images

The most points out of any driver without a win, Ryan Blaney could legitimately be out of the playoffs while being second in total points. Blaney’s pit strategy put him in position to win at Indy, utilizing a no-tire stop to make it to the front of the pack before being spun in overtime. Blaney won at Michigan last season, where the series heads next week.

9. Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Speaking of drivers who are currently in on points, Martin Truex Jr. has pulled away from Kevin Harvick for the 16th and final playoff spot. The mindset in the No. 19 team is they need a win to get in, and they have gotten close. The all-time leader in stage wins leads in 2022 with six.

10. Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell Indy Road Course
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Michael McDowell was in the midst of his career-best year before NASCAR put the penalty hammer after Pocono. An L2 penalty cost McDowell 100 owner and driver points, 10 playoff points (if he were to advance), while a four-race suspension and a $100,000 fine were handed to crew chief Blake Harris for an illegally modified part. The team appealed the ruling, which allowed Harris to be at Indy where McDowell scored a career-best ninth top 10.

11. Ross Chastain

Ross Chastain Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Ross Chastain has made his name known to every fan and driver in NASCAR. Known as the biggest wild card in the series, Chastain has been at the highest of highs and lowest of lows. The past two weeks have balanced out those highs. Hamlin took Chastain out as payback at Pocono and Chastain infamously used the access road at Indy to take the lead only to be penalized by NASCAR for exceeding track limits. He will likely improve his ranking in the coming weeks, but he is in a tough stretch of late.

12. Austin Cindric

Austin Cindric Indy Road Course
Justin Casterline | Getty Images

The highest profile rookie this season has already exceeded expectations with a Daytona 500 win. Now he’s building up for a playoff push. Five top 10s in the last seven races after his second-place finish at Indy make him seem right at home in the Cup Series.

13. Erik Jones

Erik Jones Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Erik Jones has improved in his second season with the newly-named PettyGMS Motorsports, so much so that the team re-signed Jones to a multi-year contract extension before Indy. Jones has already been in contention for race wins and came away with a respectable 15th-place finish and is 17th in total points.

14. Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Kevin Harvick is in the midst of his longest race-winless streak since going 115 races without a win from 2007-2010. Ever since winning the Bristol playoff race in 2020, Harvick has struggled to remain in playoff contention. He was the last driver in the playoffs in 2021 and is currently 96 points below Truex Jr. for the final spot, a gap that grew thanks to a DNF at Indy.

15. Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Ever since his back-to-back runner-up finishes at Charlotte and Gateway, Kyle Busch has gone from a championship favorite to a mid-pack playoff driver. Busch is still looking for a sponsor for 2023 and the idea of him leaving JGR is still not out of the question. Things looked to turn around after what would have been another runner-up finish at Pocono had it not been for the post-race disqualification. Busch sees the writing on the wall and knows it is crunch time for him and his future.

16. Chase Briscoe

Chase Briscoe Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

The idea of having over 16 winners before the playoffs has been floated for a while and has some steam heading to wild card tracks like Watkins Glen and Daytona. Chase Briscoe could be the odd one out if we see 17 winners. Of one-race winners, Briscoe is 30 points ahead of Kurt Busch, who has missed the last two races in concussion protocol.

17. William Byron

William Byron Indy Road Course
Justin Casterline | Getty Images

William Byron had the hottest start of any driver this season, being the first to two wins and nearly getting his third at Darlington had he not been taken out by Joey Logano. Another victim of chaos resulting in a DNF at Indy, Byron’s last top 10 was at Sonoma. His second win at Martinsville marked the third of him leading over 100 laps, a feat he hasn’t achieved since.

18. Joey Logano

Joey Logano Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Joey Logano broke a four-race streak of finishes outside the top 20 with a sixth-place at Indy, his best finish since ninth at Nashville. He wheeled his way from the back on the final restarts at a road course that he had a massive wreck at last year. Fords have had the upper hand at Michigan in recent years and he can certainly be a factor.

19. Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher Indy Road Course
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Chris Buescher somehow managed to take a car that burst into flames early on to finish in the top 10 at Indy. Buescher is certainly in “win or get in” mode for the playoffs, but this season has done everything it can to make it hard for him from missing Gateway due to COVID to a terrifying flip at Charlotte. Buescher has three-straight top 10 finishes at road courses, making him one of the handful of drivers to watch out for at Watkins Glen.

20. Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch driving at New Hampshire
James Gilbert | Getty Images

A hard crash in the final round of qualifying at Pocono took him out of the last two races due to concussion-like symptoms. He has an injury waiver to keep him eligible for the playoffs, but losing two races worth of points has left him with the least points among one-race winners. There is still no official word on if Busch will return for Michigan, a track he has three wins at, but he is on the official entry list for the race put out on Monday as he was for Indy.