NASCAR Power Rankings: Joey Logano rises after Atlanta win


Two of NASCAR’s best superspeedway drivers delivered the goods last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski duked it out for the final 44 laps, with the former defeating the latter after a last-lap pass for the win. The defending champion has now locked himself in the playoffs, where he’ll have a chance to capture a third career title later this year. 

Attention now turns to Austin, Texas, where the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) will host a diverse field of drivers including two former Formula One champions (Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button) testing their skills in stock cars.

So, who’s the driver to beat as NASCAR heads to the first road course of the 2023 season? Here’s our latest power rankings:

1. William Byron

Last week: 1

After consecutive victories, Byron was involved in an accident during the final stage on Sunday. He finished 32nd, but he scored six stage points and appeared to have solid speed in his car. Looking ahead to COTA, Byron has never won on a road course in his career with a best finish of sixth.

2. Kyle Busch

Last week: 3

Throughout the 36-race season, drivers will often have forgettable races. Not necessarily because they went poorly, but because nothing outstanding really happened. That was the case for Busch in Atlanta, where he finished 10th, scored four stage points and wasn’t really involved in much other action (outside of a minor spin toward the back of the field).

3. Christopher Bell

Last week: 7

I underrated Bell’s start to the season, and he once again showed why on Sunday. He was in the mix behind Keselowski and Logano throughout the final run and finished third behind those two. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver now has four top-six finishes through five races, pushing him to second in the points standings.

4. Kyle Larson

Last week: 2

Larson was narrowly defeated by Byron for the last two victories. His misfortune continued in Atlanta, where the 2021 champion was collected in a wreck when Aric Almirola blew a tire right in front of him. There wasn’t really anything Larson could do about it and he finished 31st.

5. Ross Chastain

Last week: 4

Chastain finished 13th with no stage points and was initially blamed for wrecking Kevin Harvick in the final stage. Video evidence later proved that the Melon Man didn’t touch Harvick at all, but his track position was lost on pit road and he was never able to get back to the front. Chastain won at COTA last year, so he’ll be eager to get back to the Texas track.

6. Joey Logano

Last week: 9

Just when I started to get down on Logano, he goes out and proves why he’s still a driver to beat. Atlanta’s superspeedway-style racing doesn’t translate to many other tracks, but the win will give this team even more confidence. Team Penske still needs to work on its speed at different styles of tracks, but they have this drafting package nearly perfected.

7. Alex Bowman

Last week: 6

Bowman’s streak of four straight top-10s to start the season was snapped in Atlanta after he crossed the line in 14th. Still, it was a decent result with eight stage points and limited damage at a track where it’s easy to wreck out. Bowman finished second at COTA last year.

8. Ryan Blaney

Last week: 8

A speeding penalty under green seemed to doom Blaney, but he recovered to get back on the lead lap during the final stage. He was right there behind Logano and was critical in pushing his teammate to the win. Yet again though, it was Blaney playing second fiddle and ultimately finishing seventh as his winless streak stretched to 51 races.

9. Kevin Harvick

Last week: 5

Just when Harvick got to the lead, he immediately spun and collected a handful of drivers (including Byron, Busch and others). As a result, he finished 33rd and lost the points lead. Harvick needs to quickly turn things around, but he hasn’t won at a road course since 2017.

10. Denny Hamlin

Last week: 10

In what’s becoming a weekly trend, Hamlin finished worse than he probably expected to based on his speed. Atlanta was a solid finish, crossing the line sixth after leading 14 laps and scoring nine stage points. Sixth place matched Hamlin’s best finish of the season as he rose to ninth in the standings.

First four out: Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Austin Cindric

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