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NASCAR power rankings: Alex Bowman moves up after shocking win at Richmond Raceway

Alex Bowman pulled off a shocker at Richmond after a late-race caution brought the field together. Here are the NASCAR power rankings leaving Richmond Raceway.

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 ninth race of the season at Richmond Raceway.

Updated: April 19, 12:50 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, eight top-5 finishes, eight top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 4.2.

Denny Hamlin was so close to pulling off his first win of the 2021 season at Richmond Raceway, but another late pass for the win ended with a second-place finish. Hamlin dominated the race after winning both stages and leading 207 laps on Sunday afternoon. Hamlin has been so close to winning the last few weeks and with a superspeedway race coming up next week, it should play into his favor for his first win.

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

2. Martin Truex, Jr. (Previous Ranking: 1) – (Standings: 2)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Apr 10, 2021; Martinsville, Virginia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) races at the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Two wins, four top-five finishes, six top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 9.0.

Martin Truex Jr. had a good car on Sunday, but a speeding penalty during green-flag pit stops ruined his chance for a win. Truex brought it home with a fifth-place finish after leading 107 laps on the day. Truex has been hot lately and still remains the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series with two wins on the season. He will look to win another in a wild card race next weekend.

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

3. Joey Logano (Previous Ranking: 4) – (Standings: 3)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, four top-5 finishes, six top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 8.3.

If not for a late-race caution, Joey Logano may have been the winner at day’s end on Sunday. Logano was trying his hardest to hold off a charging Denny Hamlin, but after the caution came out and they came down pit road, he found himself in a tough spot and finished in third place. Logano has been good at superspeedway tracks in the past and could give him another good opportunity for his second win of the season.

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

4. William Byron (Previous Ranking: 6) – (Standings: 4)

NASCAR power rankings: William Byron
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, two top-five finishes, seven top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.2.

William Byron has been one of the most consistent drivers in the field this season and it has shown. Byron has now finished in the top-10 positions in seven straight races after his seventh-place finish at Richmond. Byron has shown speed every week and will be a competitor in almost every race this season. He should have a good chance at another win on Sunday at Talladega.

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

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

5. Kyle Larson (Previous Ranking: 3) – (Standings: 6)

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, four top-5 finishes, six top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.8.

Kyle Larson had a disappointing day after crew chief Cliff Daniels added a packer in Stage 1. Larson brought it home in 18th place and didn’t run in the top-10 after dropping to 18th during the first pit stops of the race. Larson has been consistent at most tracks this season and it should continue if he and Daniels are on the same page. He looks to win his first superspeedway race with Hendrick Motorsports.

  • 2021 ride: No. 5 (Hendrick Motorsports)

6. Ryan Blaney (Previous Ranking: 5) – (Standings: 5)

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 13.3.

Ryan Blaney finished in 11th place on Sunday afternoon and that should be considered a win for him. Blaney never finished in the top-15 at Richmond until Sunday and he even ran in the top-10 earlier in the race. He was on a bold pit strategy in Stage 2 that didn’t pay off and put him one lap down. Blaney goes into next weekend looking for his second win at a track where he is accustomed to winning.

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

7. Christopher Bell (Previous Ranking: 8) – (Standings: 10)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, two top-5 finish, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 13.2.

Christopher Bell had another good day after finishing in fourth place, which is his best finish since his win at the Daytona Road Course. Bell had a top-10 car all day at one of his best tracks in NASCAR and now has two straight top-10 finishes. Bell is starting to trend in the right direction and that should not stop as we start to go into the summer months. Bell looks for his second career win at Talladega next weekend.

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

8. Alex Bowman (Previous Ranking: 12) – (Standings: 13)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: One win, two top-five finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 17.1.

Last week, we said Alex Bowman could be the unluckiest driver in NASCAR. Now, Bowman finds himself a winner after pulling off a shocker at Richmond. Bowman was the beneficiary of a late-race caution and pulled ahead on the final restart of the race. Bowman is the first Hendrick Motorsports driver to win at Richmond since Jimmie Johnson in 2008. Winning shouldn’t stop for Bowman due to his speed and next weekend is a great opportunity to do so.

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

9. Chase Elliott (Previous Ranking: 7) – (Standings: 7)

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, three top-5 finishes, four top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 13.0.

Chase Elliott didn’t factor into the race much on Sunday, but he still finished in 12th place. Elliott has not been great at Richmond, much like his teammates in the past, so to see him struggle wasn’t necessarily surprising. The defending champion is now the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to not win this season, but Talladega will be a great opportunity to get it done.

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

10. Brad Keselowski (Previous Ranking: 9) – (Standings: 9)

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 14.0.

Brad Keselowski had a good car at Richmond, but cautions not falling his way in Stage 2 put him behind the competition. Keselowski went one lap down and was unable to get back on the lead lap until the final caution. Keselowski finished in 14th place and is still winless on the season. Next weekend should provide a good opportunity to get his first win after a rough start to the season.

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

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

11. Kevin Harvick (Previous Ranking: 10) – (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, six top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 11.0.

Kevin Harvick was on pace for a good day after running near the top-5 in the Final Stage, but he lost a tire near the end of the race and crashed into the wall. Harvick was able to finish in 24th place and still remains winless after one of the best seasons of his career last year. Stewart-Haas Racing as a whole has been down this year and a win next weekend for Harvick could turn the narrative around.

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

12. Kyle Busch (Previous Ranking: 11) – (Standings: 11)

NASCAR drivers rankings: Kyle Busch
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, two top-5 finishes, five top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 14.1.

Kyle Busch had a good race going at one of his best tracks on Sunday, but a commitment line violation took away a good shot at his first win. Busch ended the day in eighth place, but his overall speed was more important than where he finished. He has struggled at times this season and every time he shows speed, it should be noted. Busch looks for his first win of the season next weekend at Talladega.

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

Read More: NASCAR releases stage lengths for 2021 season

13. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Previous Ranking: 13) – (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 13.1.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been the model of consistency outside of Denny Hamlin and William Byron this season. Stenhouse finished in 17th place at Richmond, which makes the first nine races of the season the longest run of top-20 finishes in his career. Stenhouse goes to Talladega as one of NASCAR’s best plate racers. He might be able to make it on points, but it’s time for Stenhouse to shine and grab his first win of the year.

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

14. Austin Dillon (Previous Ranking: 14) – (Standings: 12)

NASCAR drivers rankings: Austin Dillon
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-5 finish, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 14.3.

Austin Dillon showed top-10 speed during the race on Sunday afternoon and his finish showed that. Dillon brought home a 10th place finish and now makes the second straight week where he has shown substantial speed. Dillon has been finishing near 10th place a majority of the year, but he has been good at superspeedway races in the past, including a win in the Daytona 500.

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

15. Kurt Busch (Previous Ranking: 16) – (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 17.4.

Kurt Busch improved at Richmond with a 13th place finish. Busch has been struggling as of late and the results have not been there for the 42-year-old driver. It is his best finish since the third race of the season at Homestead when he finished in eighth place. Busch now has two top-15’s since that race and looks to improve even more next weekend at Talladega.

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

16. Matt DiBenedetto (Previous Ranking: Unranked) – (Standings: 18)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, zero top-5 finishes, one top-10 finish, and an average finishing position of 19.2.

Matt DiBenedetto had the worst start to the year imaginable, but he has turned it around as late. DiBenedetto finished in ninth place after running in the top-10 positions the majority of the second half of the race. DiBenedetto now has five straight top-15 finishes and his first top-10 finish of the season. He goes into next weekend with an amazing opportunity for his first win after almost winning at Talladega in the fall.

  • 2021 ride: No. 21 Ford (Wood Brothers Racing)

17. Chris Buescher (Previous Ranking: 15) – (Standings: 16)

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 16.9.

Chris Buescher didn’t have a great day on Sunday and only finished in 25th place. Buescher finished in the top-20 positions for seven straight races after Daytona, but that changed at Richmond. Buescher has been most consistent this season and has shown progress. He will go into Talladega with one of his better shots at a win this season.

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

Read More: NASCAR to limit qualifying runs to eight races in ’2

18. Tyler Reddick (Previous Ranking: 18) – (Standings: 22)

NASCAR Power Rankings 2021
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-5 finish, three top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 19.9.

Tyler Reddick has been better as of late, but Richmond proved to be slightly disappointing after a 20th place finish. Reddick ran in the top-10 in Stage 2, but was unable to keep the car there and fell down the running order by the time the stage ended. Reddick has shown improvement after a rough start to the season and next weekend could be a good shot to win after finishing in seventh place at Talladega in the fall.

  • 2021 ride: No. 8 Chevrolet (Richard Childress Racing)

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

NASCAR Power Rankings
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, one top-5 finish, two top-10 finishes, and an average finishing position of 19.8.

Ryan Newman ran well at Richmond last year, but that was not the case after Austin Cindric made contact with him during the race. Newman spun and wasn’t able to recover from the incident with a poor 30th place finish. Newman has been involved in a couple of incidents this year, which have affected his finishes. He looks to turn it around next weekend to develop consistency.

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

20. Aric Almirola (Previous Ranking: Unranked) – (Standings: 27)

NASCAR Power Rankings
Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2021 statistics: Zero wins, zero top-five finishes, one top-10 finish, and an average finishing position of 23.6.

Aric Almirola couldn’t have drawn up the start of his season in a worse way, but Sunday at Richmond could be the turning point he and his team wants. Almirola finished in sixth place and could have gotten a top-5 finish if not for the late-race caution. Almirola has won at Talladega in the past and while his points deficit is not insurmountable, he could use a win to help ease the pain of a rough start.

  • 2021 ride: No. 10 Ford (Stewart-Haas Racing)

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

No longer ranked

  • Michael McDowell (Previous Ranking: 17)
  • Bubba Wallace (Previous Ranking: 19)

NASCAR Cup Series standings

Richmond Raceway: (9/36)

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