Kevin Harvick has skyrocketed his way up among NASCAR’s hottest drivers thanks to back-to-back wins at Michigan International Speedway and Richmond Raceway. Where is he on the AOU Network Power Rankings? Find out who are the 20 best drivers heading into Watkins Glen International.
20. Brad Keselowski
Last Week: NR
Brad Keselowski is currently on his best stretch in 2022. He has finished in the top 20 across the last six races, a season-high streak in his first year as a team owner. This includes a season-best seventh at New Hampshire and a 15th-place result at Richmond Raceway. Keselowski had three straight second-place finishes at Watkins Glen from 2011-2013.
19. Michael McDowell
Last Week: 15
Michael McDowell’s career season has hit a dry spell of late with finishes of 28th and 29th at Michigan and Richmond respectively. While those two tracks have never been his strong suit, he has been stellar at road courses. He has three straight top-10s at road courses this season with the most recent being eighth at the Indy Road Course.
18. Chase Briscoe
Last Week: 16
Chase Briscoe is currently riding a 10-race streak of finishes outside the Top 10, with his last being in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He finished 23rd at Richmond, the same finishing position as the Indy Road Course. He did finish ninth at The Glen last year.
17. Austin Cindric
Last Week: 17
Austin Cindric remains in front of Chase Briscoe in points among single-race winners this season and has a chance to officially clinch his playoff spot with a solid performance at Watkins Glen or if a repeat winner goes to Victory Lane. He finished a solid 12th at Richmond. He won his first career Xfinity Series race at The Glen in 2019.
16. Erik Jones
Last Week: 11
Erik Jones received the worst of a wreck at Richmond on the Stage 3 restart where Ross Chastain spun Kyle Busch. Jones ran into Busch and broke the tow link on the No. 43 car, ending his race with a 35th-place result. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the DNF hurt his momentum toward making a push for the playoffs.
15. Kyle Busch
Last Week: 19
Kyle Busch finally ended his eight-race streak of finishes outside the top 10 with a ninth-place result at Richmond. He still got into trouble during the race, getting “Chastain’d” when he was spun by the No. 1 car. Pit strategy had him fall further down the top 10, but still a performance worth being proud of after a tough summer.
14. Ross Chastain
Last Week: 14
Ross Chastain once again was at the forefront of a caution, spinning out Kyle Busch on the Stage 3 restart and taking out Erik Jones. While he did win Stage 1, Chastain finished the race two laps down in 18th. He fell to fifth in the regular season standings but now has 15 playoff points.
13. William Byron
Last Week: 13
Willaim Byron is in a middling part of his season. After being the first driver with two wins after Martinsville, Byron has gone eight races without a top-10 finish, his last being ninth at Sonoma Raceway. However, that stat may be a bit misleading. Byron has finished 11th or 12th in four of those eight races.
12. Chris Buescher
Last Week: 18
Chris Buescher made the biggest gains compared to last week’s power rankings. He wheeled his way up to second after the final pit cycle at Richmond. He fell to third on older tires, which was still his best finish on an oval this season. He will be one to look out for at Watkins Glen. His last three top 10s before Richmond were at road courses. He will look for his first top-10 finish at the Glen this weekend.
11. Daniel Suárez
Last Week: 7
Daniel Suárez had a tough race at Richmond. Not only did he finish a disappointing 19th, but Suårez also hit two of his pit crew members after entering his pit stall faster than he expected. Thankfully everyone was okay, but pit stops are going to be a huge factor in the final two races of the regular season at Watkins Glen and Daytona International Speedway.
10. Joey Logano
Last Week: 12
Joey Logano has turned a bad July into an exceptional August. Starting at Road America on July 3 and ending at Pocono Raceway on July 24, Logano placed no better than 20th and never started in the top 10. He began the turnaround on July 31 at the Indy Road Course where he began a top-six finish streak that continued into another sixth at Richmond. Logano led 222 laps, a career-best at the track, and won Stage 2. His 45 points secured at Richmond are the most he has won in a race since his first race of the season at Darlington.
9. Martin Truex Jr.
Last Week: 10
Martin Truex Jr. did not succeed in his goal at Richmond, which was to win a race at his best track. He also lost ground in his points battle with Ryan Blaney, dropping seven points to him, and now trails him 26 points for the final playoff spot. Truex Jr. finished seventh at Richmond, breaking his seven-race top-five streak at the track. The result was his worst at Richmond since finishing 14th in the spring 2018 race.
8. Tyler Reddick
Last Week: 4
Tyler Reddick could not recover from an early spin at Richmond. He brought out the first caution on Lap 4, forcing him to pit early and use up a set of valuable fresh tires. He ended the race six laps down in 31st. He won at the two most recent road courses, Road America and the Indy Road Course, making him a major threat at The Glen.
7. Kyle Larson
Last Week: 5
Kyle Larson lost his lead from the pole to Ross Chastain, who subsequently led every lap to win Stage 1. Despite finishing a lap down, Larson managed a decent 14th-place finish at a track that is not one of his best. Larson moved up in the points standings from fifth to third, passing Chastain and Truex Jr. thanks to top-three finishes in the first two stages.
6. Ryan Blaney
Last Week: 9
Ryan Blaney extended his points lead on Martin Truex Jr. for the final playoff spot and also prevented Chase Elliott from clinching the regular season title, if only by a few points. Kevin Harvick’s win prevented a new winner from clinching the final playoff spot, meaning he is in the clear for now. Blaney figured out Richmond, a track he traditionally struggles at, as he now has three straight top 10s at the 0.75-mile track.
5. Bubba Wallace
Last Week: 2
Bubba Wallace’s four-race top-10 streak ended at Richmond, but the No. 23 team still has heavy momentum on their side. A 13th-place finish falls just one spot shy of Wallace’s career-best at the track and his first top-20 at Richmond with 23XI Racing. Wallace shook off his road course woes when he finished fifth at Indy, perhaps that can continue at The Glen.
4. Christopher Bell
Last Week: 6
Pit strategy gave Christopher Bell a great chance to win at Richmond. A call to take tires later than others allowed his Goodyears to be fresher at the end. He was flying through the field on the final run, making his way up to second with Kevin Harvick in his crosshairs. He closed the gap to under half a second, but two more laps and Bell would have his second win of the year.
3. Kevin Harvick
Last Week: 8
After going winless in 65-straight races, Kevin Harvick has won back-to-back races in 2022 at Michigan and Richmond. He went from being below the playoff cutline to fully secured in the Round of 16. Harvick is the first driver this season to win two-consecutive Cup series races.
2. Denny Hamlin
Last Week: 3
Denny Hamlin improves on this week’s rankings by showing he is capable of winning at any track when given the equipment and support he had around him at Richmond. A fourth-place finish at Richmond gave him back-to-back top-fives, but just like at Michigan, he had a car capable of winning. Pit strategy held him back this time around as opposed to leading him to Victory Lane like it did in the spring Richmond race.
1. Chase Elliott
Last Week: 1
Chase Elliott remains at the top of the rankings by racking in his sixth top-five finish in the last eight races and first since his 1-2-1-2-1 streak of finishes from late June to late July. He seemed to hit a bump in the road after being spun at Indy and lacking speed at Michigan, but he ended the slump quickly. The series returns to a road course this weekend where Elliott will undoubtedly be one of, if not, the favorite to win.