NASCAR power rankings this week: The best drivers heading to Talladega

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Alex Andrejev
·3 min read
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NASCAR is superspeedway racing at Talladega this weekend for the Geico 500. The 10th race of the Cup season is 2 p.m. Sunday on FOX.

Below are The Observer’s NASCAR power rankings for the week of April 19. This list will be updated each week.

Honorable mention:

Ryan Blaney (-2 spots from last week) dropped from the top-three in Power Rankings after two 11th-place finishes in a row, at Martinsville and Richmond. Blaney led 157 laps at Martinsville, but was forced to the back of the field late in the race due to pit road penalty. At Richmond last weekend, Blaney finished in the top-five in the opening stage, but fell back on an unsuccessful tire strategy to miss points in Stage 2. This weekend should go better for the No. 12 Ford team, however. Blaney won last year’s Geico 500 at Talladega.

William Bryon (no change) continues to stack together solid finishes since winning at Homestead. He earned another top-10 at Richmond, finishing seventh in his No. 24 Chevrolet. Byron didn’t lead laps, but he hovered in the top-10 throughout the race for stage points and finished higher than two of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott (12th) and Kyle Larson (18th). Byron didn’t top teammate Alex Bowman, however, who won the race firing off after a late restart.

Top 3:

3. Joey Logano (+3) was in position to score another win at Richmond and pass late-race leader Denny Hamlin before Bowman blew through the field in the final 10 laps. Logano finished in third and led 49 laps of the race. The third-place finish is the fourth top-five in nine races this season for the No. 22 Ford team, including the group’s win at the Bristol dirt race. Logano has three wins at Talladega Superspeedway, but none after 2018.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (-1) led 107 of 400 laps at Richmond and finished second in the opening two stages. A speeding penalty in the final stage cost Truex Jr. his top-three spot, which he wasn’t able to regain before the checkered flag. He still finished in fifth, for his fourth top-five of the year, two of which were first-place finishes in the No. 19 Toyota.

1. Denny Hamlin (+1) moves ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in Power Rankings after a dominant performance at his hometown track last Sunday. Hamlin led more than half the laps of the race (207) and swept the opening two stages of the race at Richmond, but Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota lost grip after the final restart with 10 laps to go and Bowman sailed by him for a win. Hamlin is still seeking his first win of the season, but with eight top-five finishes in nine races, Hamlin isn’t worried. What the No. 11 team lacks in wins, it makes up for in points. Hamlin leads the Cup Series by 81 points over second-place points leader Truex Jr.