NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin No. 1 for fifth straight week

NBC Sports Staff

By winning Saturday night at Bristol, Denny Hamlin maintained his stranglehold on the NBC NASCAR Power Rankings.

For the fifth consecutive week, Hamlin is No. 1 in the rankings – and by unanimous selection. But he’s not the only big story: Matt DiBenedetto, who finished second in Saturday’s race, made the biggest jump in this week’s rankings, going from unranked to No. 2.

Conversely, taking the biggest falls are Kevin Harvick (second last week to seventh) and Martin Truex Jr. (third to eighth).

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings shape up:

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): Doing everything right. Could this finally be the year he earns that elusive first Cup championship? Last week: 1st.

2. Matt DiBenedetto (29 points): Starting to come on at the right time. Runner-up run at Bristol gives him four top 10s in the last five races. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 3. Chase Elliott (27 points): After struggling to find consistency at times, he has three consecutive top-10 finishes heading into the off-weekend. Last week: 6th.

(tie) 3. Kyle Busch (27 points): Finished fourth for his fifth top 10 in the last six races but lamented after the race to NBCSN that “we’re flat out getting our ass kicked by our teammates so we’ve got to get better.” Last week: 5th.

5. Kyle Larson (26 points): Sixth-place finish marked his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. This team is cutting down on the mistakes that plagued it earlier in the year. Last week: 4th.

6. Brad Keselowski (23 points): As well as he’s run in Bristol over a long while. Earned first top five in 10 starts on the track. Last week: 9th.

7. Kevin Harvick (16 points): Freak mechanical failure ruins a very good weekend but look for him to bounce back big-time at Darlington in two weeks. Last week: 2nd.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (11 points): Flat tire caused his streak of four consecutive top 10s to come to an end with a 13th-place performance at Bristol. Last week: 3rd.

9. Daniel Suarez (9 points): Team and driver are showing a lot of fight. Don’t be surprised if Suarez is the next first-time Cup winner. Last week: 7th.

10. Clint Bowyer (4 points): He may have fallen below the playoff cutline, but you have to admire the way he bounced back from adversity to finish seventh at Bristol. With the pressure on him in the last two races to make the playoffs, Bowyer will have to have two of his best efforts of the year at Darlington and Indianapolis. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Ryan Blaney (3 points), Ryan Newman (2 points), Kurt Busch (2 points), Tyler Reddick (1 point).