NASCAR Power Rankings: Coca-Cola 600 win moves Ryan Blaney up

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NASCAR Power Rankings: Coca-Cola 600 win moves Blaney up originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Roger Penske had himself a weekend.

The 86-year-old team owner watched his driver Josef Newgarden win the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. After a rain delay pushed the Coca-Cola 600 to Monday, Team Penske visited victory lane on consecutive days when Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag in Charlotte.

Blaney’s win snapped a 59-race winless streak dating back to August of 2021.

With just 12 races now remaining in the regular season, the NASCAR playoff battle is heating up. The series will head to St. Louis this weekend for the second annual Cup race at Gateway.

So, who is the driver to beat at the calendar flips to June? Here’s our latest NASCAR power rankings:

1. William Byron

Last week: 1

Much of the credit for Byron’s second-place run on Monday should be given to his pit crew. With the first stall on pit road, the No. 24 team gained spots for Byron during every caution. The 25-year-old Charlotte native did all he could by leading 91 laps, but it was clear that Blaney just had a better car this week.

2. Kyle Larson

Last week: 2

Larson was in position for an unexpected top-five before he lost control and cashed in the final laps. It was an uncharacteristic self-inflicted wound for the 2021 champion. Larson’s team made significant changes to the car early in the race when the No. 5 was way off the pace. It was encouraging that they were able to fix those issues, even if they didn’t get the intended finish.

3. Martin Truex Jr.

Last week: 4

A third-place finish, 14 stage points and a jump to fifth in the points standings. MTJ made the most of the carnage of Monday, avoiding every accident and walking away with his third top-five in the last six races.

4. Christopher Bell

Last week: 5

The 600-mile race distance on Monday proved to be too much for Bell. In the first 300 miles, he was a true contender – leading 48 laps and scoring 14 stage points. The team made unapproved adjustments during the red flag, then he spun out while running fifth and, later on, was caught up in Larson’s accident to finish 24th.

5. Ross Chastain

Last week: 3

After dominating this race in 2022 (153 laps led), Chastain was a total non-factor this year due to some contact on pit road. He still leads the standings by one point despite finishing 22nd. It was a tough performance from Chastain and Trackhouse Racing, who have been consistently fast since the beginning of 2022.

6. Tyler Reddick

Last week: 9

If anyone had the car to challenge Blaney, it appeared to be Reddick. He led 28 laps while consistently running out front, but he ultimately finished fifth after fading in the final stage. We’ll always have this awesome moment, though, when Reddick somehow saved his Carolina Blue, Jordan-sponsored car while driving through the infield turf:

7. Denny Hamlin

Last week: 6

Hamlin was rightfully frustrated after Chase Elliott appeared to intentionally wreck him during Stage 2. He didn’t give Elliott much room while exiting the final corner, and then suddenly Hamlin pounded the outside wall. Before the accident, Hamlin seemed to have a car on the same level as his teammate Truex.

8. Kyle Busch

Last week: 8

From spinning and driving around the track backwards to finishing sixth, Busch went through it all on Monday. The two-time Cup champion made an admirable recovery when his race looked lost. Busch now has seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts this season.

9. Kevin Harvick

Last week: 7

Harvick started second, dropped to 30th in Stage 1, came back and led 19 laps in Stage 2 and then finished 11th. The 47-year-old veteran knows how to manage these long races, though he likely hoped for a better final result.

10. Ryan Blaney

Last week: first four out

Finally off the schneid, Blaney scored 18 top-fives and 30 top-10s in 59 races since his last win. His ability to close races was, rightfully, being questioned as he and his team continued to shoot themselves in the foot. With a crown jewel victory in hand, this could be the start of a heater for Blaney.

First four out: Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher