NASCAR power rankings: Major shuffle after a wild day of dirt racing at Bristol Motor Speedway

Joey Logano made history on Monday after winning the first Cup race on dirt in 51 years. Here are the NASCAR power rankings leaving Bristol Motor Speedway.

By Austin Konenski

The 2021 season is underway as drivers look to compete for the NASCAR Cup Series championship. Some may say that this season could be the, “best season ever,” and if it is anything like it is hyped up to be, that could be true. Let’s take a look at some of the changes below.

NASCAR drivers entered this season with many new things ahead. They have a brand new schedule that sees the additions of Bristol on dirt, Nashville Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Road America, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. There is also a higher abundance of seat movement with the notables of Kyle Larson going to Hendrick Motorsports and Bubba Wallace to 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.

The NextGen car is also poised to come out after the conclusion of the 2021 season. It was supposed to come out this season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed back one year. The date for a new engine was also pushed back and is currently to be determined.

Let’s dive into our updated NASCAR power rankings after the seventh race of the season at Bristol on Dirt.

Updated: March 22, 12:05 PM EST

NASCAR power rankings: Top-tier drivers looking for a championship run

1. Denny Hamlin (Previous Ranking: 2) – (Standings: 1)

NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, six top-5 finishes, six top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 4.7.

Denny Hamlin was so close to pulling off his first win of the 2021 season at Bristol on Dirt, but poor track conditions on the top-line ruined his opportunity on the last restart of the race. Hamlin brought it home in third place after a strong day of overcoming conditions and mayhem. Hamlin goes into the off-weekend as the only driver with over four top-5 finishes with six total.

  • 2021 ride: No. 11 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)

2. Kyle Larson (Previous Ranking: 1) – (Standings: 4)

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, three top-5 finishes, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.9.

Kyle Larson was caught up in an unfortunate wreck in Stage 1 when Christopher Bell moved up to the high line and couldn’t pick up any grip off the exit of Turn 2. Larson finished in 29th place, which is his worst finish of the 2021 season. Larson has been arguably the fastest car this year, but some unfortunate events such as speeding penalties and wrecks have derailed him from having the type of statistics as Denny Hamlin.

  • 2021 ride: No. 5 (Hendrick Motorsports)

3. Martin Truex, Jr. (Previous Ranking: 3) – (Standings: 3)

NASCAR power rankings: Martin Truex Jr.
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, two top-five finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 10.7.

Martin Truex Jr. didn’t have the finish to show for how good his car was on Monday evening, but it was really good. Truex led a race-high 126 laps and won Stage 1 to earn a playoff point. However, on the final restart, Truex’s car went straight into the corner and he was unable to turn, thus, giving him a 19th place finish. Truex has been hot as of late and going into Martinsville two weeks from now will be great for his chances of another win.

  • 2021 ride: No. 19 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)

4. Joey Logano (Previous Ranking: 5) – (Standings: 2)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, three top-5 finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 9.4.

Joey Logano did what no other driver in the NASCAR Cup Series has done in the last 51 years: win a dirt race at NASCAR’s top level. Logano led 61 laps and won Stage 2 after being a top-5 car to begin the race. The poor track conditions made it very difficult to pass, including on the single-file restarts. This played exactly into Logano’s hands to win his first race of the 2021 season and one of the most anticipated races of the year.

  • 2021 ride: No. 22 Ford (Team Penske)

5. William Byron (Previous Ranking: 7) – (Standings: 6)

NASCAR power rankings: William Byron
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, one top-five finish, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 12.9.

William Byron has run consistently in the top-10 positions for five straight races now and he sniffed the top-5 positions on Monday evening with a sixth-place finish. Byron isn’t known to be a dirt expert, but he did win the iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Bristol on Dirt, which in all fairness, wasn’t anything like we saw on Monday. Byron has been really good as of late and is cementing himself as Hendrick Motorsports’ second-best driver right now.

  • 2021 ride: No. 24 Chevrolet (Hendrick Motorsports)

Read More: William Byron is NASCAR’s next huge breakout star in 2021

6. Ryan Blaney (Previous Ranking: 8) – (Standings: 7)

NASCAR power rankings
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, two top-5 finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 14.0.

Ryan Blaney wasn’t the best car, but he had a consistent top-10 running car the whole race and brought it home in eighth-place. Blaney has been better lately after a poor start to the season when he didn’t get a top-10 finish until the fourth race of the season. Blaney now has four straight top-10 finishes and will continue to ride his momentum into Martinsville two weeks from now.

  • 2021 ride: No. 12 Ford (Team Penske)

7. Brad Keselowski (Previous Ranking: 4) – (Standings: 5)

NASCA Power Rankings: Brad Keselowski
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, three top-5 finishes, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.3.

Brad Keselowski isn’t a known dirt racer, which we found out on Monday when he was non-existent the whole race. Keselowski found his way to 11th place at the end of the day after spending the majority of the day around 15th to 20th place. He hasn’t been that great the last two races at Atlanta and Bristol on Dirt, so an off-weekend won’t be terrible to shake this off and move forward.

  • 2021 ride: No. 2 Ford (Team Penske)

Read More: NASCAR’s iRacing series to return with 10 events

8. Kevin Harvick (Previous Ranking: 6) – (Standings: 8)

NASCAR drivers rankings: Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Dover International Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Dover, Del. ghows-MO-200829649-15772762.jpg
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, two top-5 finishes, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 9.4.

Kevin Harvick probably finished where he expected to finish in 15th place, but he was one of many drivers who enjoyed racing on dirt. Harvick enjoyed the weekend, which was a surprise knowing how he felt beforehand. However, Harvick is still struggling to muster up a dominant race and has been finished in double-digit positions three of the last four races. He will look to turn it around at a track he struggled at last year in the playoffs.

  • 2021 ride: No. 4 Ford (Stewart-Haas Racing)

9. Christopher Bell (Previous Ranking: 9) – (Standings: 10)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, one top-5 finish, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 15.4.

Christopher Bell had one of the fastest cars in Stage 1, but he soon found himself in the garage after he wrecked while running the top in Turns 1 and 2. Bell, one of the better dirt racers in the garage, was the victim of very poor management of the track after the cushion thinned out in Stage 1. Bell had speed and not everything should be judged on a finishing position with a wild card race like this one.

  • 2021 ride: No. 20 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)

10. Chase Elliott (Previous Ranking: 11) – (Standings: 9)

NASCAR rankings: Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott celebrates after winning the Go Bowling 235 at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, August 16, 2020. Cup Win02
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, two top-5 finishes, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 14.7.

Chase Elliott is not the greatest dirt driver in NASCAR, but he had a consistent day that resulted in a 10th place finish. Elliott was around the 10th position most of the day and didn’t have that much speed compared to his three other teammates. Elliott will go to a track in two weeks that helped propel him to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in the 2020 season.

  • 2021 ride: No. 9 Chevrolet (Hendrick Motorsports)

NASCAR power rankings: Second-tier drivers looking for a turnaround

11. Kyle Busch (Previous Ranking: 10) – (Standings: 13)

NASCAR drivers rankings: Kyle Busch
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, two top-5 finishes, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 15.6.

Kyle Busch’s day was a disaster from the start when mud clogged up the front of his car and he had to come to pit road to fix the issue. Busch’s day was pretty much done from that point and only got worse in Stage 2 when he was involved in an accident caused by dust. Busch finished in 17th place after a frustrating day and he’ll look for his first win and better luck at Martinsville.

  • 2021 ride: No. 18 Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing)

Read More: NASCAR releases stage lengths for 2021 season

12. Alex Bowman (Previous Ranking: 12) – (Standings: 16)

NASCAR drivers rankings: Alex Bowman
Credit: Steve Helber/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-five finish, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 17.0.

Alex Bowman had one of the better cars in practice, but his day was derailed after it was diagnosed that his car wasn’t going to have a fourth gear for the rest of the day. Bowman ran in third gear and brought it home in 22nd place after a very disappointing day. Many of the best cars didn’t finish in the top-10 positions, so Bowman isn’t alone in his frustrations as he looks to get his first win of the season.

  • 2021 ride: No. 48 Chevrolet (Hendrick Motorsports)

13. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Previous Ranking: 16) – (Standings: 14)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-five finish, one top-10 finish, and an average finishing position of 12.3.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been the model of consistency outside of Denny Hamlin this season. Stenhouse has zero finishes outside of the top-20 positions and almost won his first race of the season at Bristol on Dirt with a second-place finish. Stenhouse has shown speed and maybe with another restart, he would’ve gotten a shot to steal the win away from Joey Logano. Stenhouse looks to continue his streak of consistent runs in two weeks.

  • 2021 ride: No. 47 Chevrolet (JTG Daugherty Racing)

14. Michael McDowell (Previous Ranking: 13) – (Standings: 12)

NASCA Power Rankings: Michael McDowell
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, one top-5 finish, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 12.3.

Michael McDowell had a solid day and stayed out of trouble to bring home a 12th place finish at a track you may not expect him to finish that high. McDowell was quiet throughout the day, but a solid day is good for the No. 34 crew since they want to show that they can contend for top-10 finishes on a weekly basis. McDowell goes into the off-weekend in the best shape of his career thus far.

  • 2021 ride: No. 34 Ford (Front Row Motorsports)

15. Austin Dillon (Previous Ranking: 14) – (Standings: 11)

NASCAR drivers rankings: Austin Dillon
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-5 finish, two top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 15.0.

Austin Dillon surprisingly was not that great on Monday evening and only finished in the 21st position. Dillon was pegged as one of the dark horses coming into the event after he won a race at Bristol on Dirt the night before the Atlanta race last weekend. Dillon’s poor finish may come as a surprise to some as that was his second-worst finish of an otherwise consistent year.

  • 2021 ride: No. 3 Chevrolet (Richard Childress Racing)

16. Kurt Busch (Previous Ranking: 15) – (Standings: 15)

NASCA Power Rankings: Kurt Busch
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-five finish, two top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 17.6.

Kurt Busch was another driver to have a quiet day after only finishing in the 16th position. Busch isn’t known to be a dirt racer, so a finish like this shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, Busch has been very quiet the last month was his best finish being 15th place in the last four races. Busch needs the off-weekend as he looks to turn it around for a top-10 finish in the next race.

  • 2021 ride: No. 1 Chevrolet (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Read More: NASCAR to limit qualifying runs to eight races in ’21

NASCAR power rankings: Teams looking to make the playoffs

17. Chris Buescher (Previous Ranking: 17) – (Standings: 17)

NASCAR power rankings: Chris Buescher
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, zero top-five finishes, one top-10 finish, and an average finishing position of 16.3.

Chris Buescher had a solid day at Bristol and kept the car out of trouble, which resulted in a decent 14th place finish. Buescher has been seeing better finishes as of late with only one finish outside of the top-20 at the Daytona 500. Buescher could be setting himself up for a possible playoff push if he can continue to string along good finishes and contend as he did at Homestead earlier this year.

  • 2021 ride: No. 17 Ford (Roush Fenway Racing)

18. Daniel Suarez (Previous Ranking: Unranked) – (Standings: 20)

NASCAR power rankings
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-5 finish, one top-10 finish, and an average finishing position of 19.3.

Daniel Suarez had his best race of the season on Monday and it definitely showed that he and Trackhouse Racing Team are starting to turn a corner. Suarez led 58 laps and earned 16 stage points on the day with his best finish of the season in fourth-place. It is Trackhouse’s first top-5 and top-10 finish of the season and if Suarez can continue how he has been driving the last two weeks, there will be many more to come.

  • 2021 ride: No. 99 Chevrolet (Trackhouse Racing Team)

19. Bubba Wallace (Previous Ranking: 19) – (Standings: 21)

NASCAR Power Rankings: Bubba Wallace
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, zero top-five finishes, zero top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 21.7.

Bubba Wallace had a fast car but was yet again the victim of bad luck when he had a left rear tire go down. Wallace spun in the Final Stage and surprisingly didn’t see a caution, which aided his poor finish of 27th place. Wallace has yet to finish in the top-10 positions yet, but he has shown the speed to finish in those positions. Wallace will look to turn his luck around at a track he has run well at before in two weeks.

  • 2021 ride: No. 23 Toyota (23XI Racing)

20. Ryan Newman (Previous Ranking: Unranked) – (Standings: 19)

NASCA Power Rankings
Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-5 finish, two top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 18.4.

Ryan Newman had a rough start to the day but eventually found himself with a fifth-place finish at the end of it. William Byron and Ryan Newman made contact in Stage 1 that sent Newman around, which surprisingly didn’t hurt his ability to earn stage points. Newman has been racing well as of late and his first top-5 finish of the season shows that he will run better than he did after his notable Daytona wreck last season.

  • 2021 ride: No. 6 (Roush Fenway Racing)

Read More: Top-25 best NASCAR Cup Series Prospects in 2021

No longer ranked

  • Ryan Preece (Previous Ranking: 18)
  • Matt DiBenedetto (Previous Ranking: 20)

NASCAR Cup Series standings

Bristol on Dirt: (7/36)