Saturday, September 30, 2023

CXT (Cup, Xfinity, Truck) Power Rankings: How Does Keselowski’s Gutty Atlanta Performance Affect His Rank?

HAMPTON, GA – FEBRUARY 24: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, pits during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2019 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By Toby Christie         

Okay, so I know the talk was about that new competition package but honestly things looked quite the same in Atlanta. However, after a crazy Daytona it was nice to see some cars and trucks come back from a race unscathed. Here is how the rankings shake out after Atlanta Motor Speedway:

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*NOTE I rank what I feel to be the top-30 drivers between the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series each and every week. These are MY opinions.

Rank Prev Driver (Series)
1 2 Kyle Busch (Cup, Trucks) Kyle Busch broke the all-time truck series win record in Atlanta. He also started from the rear in the Cup race and finished sixth.
2 7 Brad Keselowski (Cup) Wow, what a gutty performance by Keselowski. He gets his first win of the season and now he and Paul Wolfe can begin preparing for the Playoffs.
3 3 Kevin Harvick (Cup) Harvick had reason to be frustrated after Sunday’s race at Atlanta. At the end of Stage 2, he looked like the guy to beat. Then his handling went away and he stumbled to a fourth place finish. Still he won a stage and led quite a few laps.
4 5 Martin Truex Jr. (Cup) Truex rebounded from a lackluster Daytona 500 with a solid runner-up finish at Atlanta. If only he would stop complaining in every post-race interview.
5 1 Joey Logano (Cup) Logano slips from the top spot in the rankings this week with a horrid Atlanta finish that happened with a fast race car. Logano didn’t show the calm cool demeanor of a defending champion as he was constantly frustrated by Alex Bowman on pit road.
6 6 Denny Hamlin (Cup) Week one, Hamlin was 1st. Week two, he was 11th. Will he keep the trend going and finish 21st in Las Vegas?
7 8 Kyle Larson (Cup) Kyle Larson undoubtedly had the car to beat in Atlanta, however an ill-timed speeding penalty put the nail in the coffin for a potential win. Still, he won a Stage and competed well.
8 23 Kurt Busch (Cup) Busch bounces way up the rankings this week after a third place finish at Atlanta. Call me crazy, but with how the 1 car has performed over the last year (without Busch driving it), I didn’t expect that.
9 13 Christopher Bell (Xfinity) Should be in Cup. He just won his first of 20 NXS races in 2019.
10 10 Erik Jones (Cup) Two races in, two top-10 finishes for Jones. He’s just getting warmed up.
11 9 Ryan Blaney (Cup) What a bummer, Blaney had the lead late until trouble on pit road. He should bounce back in Vegas.
12 15 Clint Bowyer (Cup) Bowyer’s No. 14 car showed speed all week long and he finished the weekend with a fifth-place finish. Not bad at all.
13 14 Aric Almirola (Cup) Almirola got career pole No. 2 and he also recorded his 18th top-10 finish in his last 38 starts.
14 12 Alex Bowman (Cup) It was far from a good day for Alex Bowman, who finished 15th, but he did finish higher than any of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Yeah, it’s that bad at HMS.
15 4 Chase Elliott (Cup) The hometown boy was unable to get the Dawsonville Pool Room to sound the siren. He was able to hang on to a 19th place finish, though. Yay.
16 16 Justin Allgaier (Xfinity) Allgaier scored a third place finish. Back-to-back top-threes for the driver of the No. 7.
17 17 Tyler Reddick (Xfinity) Fifth-place finish at Atlanta. Don’t look now, but Reddick has figured out how to be a consistent driver, which may make him even more of a threat than he was during his championship campaign a year ago.
18 19 Brett Moffitt (Trucks) Moffitt scored the first top-10 finish of his GMS Racing tenure.
19 18 William Byron (Cup) I keep waiting for him to take the next step. Then I realize he’s in some less than stellar equipment at the moment.
20 27 Daniel Suarez (Cup) Top-10 in his second race at Stewart-Haas Racing. Just saying, he should have a pretty good season.
21 21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Cup) Started an impressive 2nd. Finished an unimpressive 18th.
22 22 Ross Chastain (Cup, Xfinity, Trucks) 31st in the Cup race, but that’s to be expected given his Premium Motorsports equipment. However, Chastain finished 14th in the NXS race driving for JD Motorsports and sixth in the Trucks for Niece Motorsports.
23 30 Cole Custer (Xfinity) He was much more present in the NXS race this week. Started on the pole (because of weather) but ran good all day and finished second.
24 24 Austin Hill (Trucks) Backed up his Daytona win with a seventh place finish in Atlanta. Maybe this guy is good enough to boot a champion for.
25 25 Paul Menard (Cup) A quiet 14th-place finish at Atlanta stops the bleeding for Menard.
26 11 Jimmie Johnson (Cup) It’s only two races into the season, but it may already be time to panic for seven-time.
27 20 Ryan Preece (Cup) Looked like he would start his Cup career with two-straight top-10 finishes until BJ McLeod decided to stop in the middle of pit road.
28 NR Chris Buescher (Cup) Solid ninth place finish puts Buescher back into our rankings. JTG Daugherty flat out-performed Hendrick Motorsports in the second race of their technical alliance.
29 NR Johnny Sauter (Trucks) Sauter finished runner-up on Saturday. That’s good enough to break into our rankings!
30 NR Jeffrey Earnhardt (Xfinity) Earnhardt has impressed me. Led a lot of laps at Daytona before being shuffled to a 15th-place finish. Then backs it up with a sixth place run in Atlanta. It’s a shame he isn’t running the full season.

Dropped out: Austin Dillon (26), Matt DiBenedetto (28), Noah Gragson (29)

Knocking on the door: Ryan Sieg (Xfinity), Ryan Newman (Cup), Grant Enfinger (Trucks)

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Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is an award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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