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CXT (Cup, Xfinity, Truck) Rankings: Some New Faces in the List After a Wild Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 17: Several car crash during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By Toby Christie         

Alright, Daytona proved to be a weird bunch of races. The Truck and Cup races were insane. While the Xfinity Series event was mild. However, things did shake up the rankings, but I tried to keep things calm considering it was just a restrictor plate race weekend.

*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 1 Joey Logano (Cup) He may not have won the Daytona 500, but Logano followed up his 2018 Championship with a strong 2019 Speedweeks.
2 3 Kyle Busch (Cup) Busch had his first Daytona 500 victory in his sights, but he just didn’t have enough help to get by his teammate Denny Hamlin for the win.
3 2 Kevin Harvick (Cup) Harvick won a Duel and then was one of numerous crash victims in the Daytona 500. No reason to panic. Harvick should return to form in Atlanta.
4 5 Chase Elliott (Cup) It was a frustrating Speedweeks for Elliott. Nobody would run with him down low in the Clash or the Duels or the Xfinity Series race. Luckily things got more exciting in the Daytona 500, and Elliott was among the front runners all day until being swept up in a crash.
5 4 Martin Truex Jr. (Cup) It was a less than stellar Daytona 500 for Truex in his first race with Joe Gibbs Racing… A few more of these and we might start to get worried.
6 11 Denny Hamlin (Cup) 47 races later, Hamlin is back in victory lane. He was clutch down the stretch at Daytona and he looks poised to return to championship form after a mediocre 2018.
7 6 Brad Keselowski (Cup) Keselowski looked like an afterthought for the majority of the Daytona 500, but a flat tire at lap 187 and then two subsequent crashes in the closing laps finally put an end to any shot he had at victory.
8 8 Kyle Larson (Cup) What in the flip was that? Larson’s car was terrible all week long in Daytona. But somehow — even after crashing a couple of times — Larson ended up in the top-10 in the Daytona 500… That’s the stuff that eventual champions are made of.
9 9 Ryan Blaney (Cup) Blaney led 13 laps on the day and seemed to have a decent car. However, he was swept up in the 21-car melee on lap 191.
10 13 Erik Jones (Cup) Jones had one hell of a rebound on Sunday. His race looked to be done after having fuel pressure issues. But in the closing laps, there was the No. 20 knifing his way to the front. Jones came home third.
11 16 Jimmie Johnson (Cup) I know, he caused a 17-car pileup in the Clash. But after getting the rear end of his car obliterated while minding his own business on pit road, Johnson still found a way to finish top-10 in the Dayton 500. Return of the golden horseshoe?
12 17 Alex Bowman (Cup) Bowman qualified outside pole for the Daytona 500 and had a great race. He was a fixture inside the top-five throughout the race until he was wrecked late. Still, even without a front splitter Bowman finished 11th.
13 10 Christopher Bell (Xfinity) Bell learned a lot in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona, but he never really looked like much of a factor for the win. He did lead four laps and finish sixth, though.
14 12 Aric Almirola (Cup) Almirola didn’t lead any laps in the Daytona 500, but he was a solid top-10 car. Even though he crashed, Almirola looks to be on his way to repeating his great 2018 season.
15 7 Clint Bowyer (Cup) Bowyer was right in the thick of the hunt for the Daytona 500 win. Then, he made a boneheaded move on lap 199 that piled up nine cars. But you can’t say he wasn’t going for it.
16 20 Justin Allgaier (Xfinity) Allgaier notched his second-career second-place finish at Daytona this past weekend. One of these times lady luck will roll a win for him at that place.
17 15 Tyler Reddick (Cup, Xfinity) Reddick scored the pole in the NXS race – Sweet! Then had to start at the back because of a flat tire – Gah! Then he rebounded to lead the race – Woo! And eventually he crossed the finish line in 9th – Meh. He then followed that up with a 27th place finish in the Daytona 500.
18 26 William Byron (Cup) Did it seem like Byron had a new type of swagger to him in Daytona? He was lock down in Trucks and Xfinity but for the most part he was an afterthought in his rookie Cup season. He looked like he belonged Sunday at Daytona.
19 14 Brett Moffitt (Trucks) It was an unceremonious first race with GMS Racing for 2018 Truck Series champion Moffitt. He was caught up in one of the several big crashes and retired with a 26th-place finish.
20 28 Ryan Preece (Cup) Many wondered if Preece was set up for failure by moving to the Cup Series with the small JTG Daugherty Racing team after only driving part time in the NXS for JGR. To those people, shhh. Preece showed why he’s a next-level talent at Daytona.
21 22 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Cup) Man, he was involved in two crashes in the Daytona 500 so it feels wrong to move him up a spot this week, but somehow Stenhouse is fourth in Cup points heading into Atlanta. So there is that.
22 NR Ross Chastain (Cup, Xfinity, Trucks) Ross Chastain would have been on the preseason list had it not been for him losing his premier ride in the Xfinity Series at Chip Ganassi Racing. After Daytona, Chastain proves I should have kept him on the list anyway. 10th in the Daytona 500. 13th in the Xfinity race and third in the Truck race. Wow.
23 18 Kurt Busch (Cup) Neither CGR car was phenomenal at Daytona, but at least for Larson he brought home a good finish. Busch starts what may be his final Cup season with a lackluster 25th-place finish.
24 NR Austin Hill (Trucks) Talk about the ultimate mic drop. Hill and his team Hattori Racing Enterprises were laughed at all off season. The team had decided to move on from the champion Brett Moffitt in favor of Hill. After all the noise, Hill proceeded to win the season-opening race.
25 24 Paul Menard (Cup) Hey Paul Menard, smile if you had an uneventful Speedweeks.
26 21 Austin Dillon (Cup) Not only was Dillon not the best finishing RCR car at Daytona, he wasn’t even the best finishing member of his own family. Brother Ty finished the Daytona 500 in sixth.
27 19 Daniel Suarez (Cup) Well, his Stewart-Haas Racing tenure didn’t get off to the best of starts. However, it’s just a plate race. We will see how he shakes out in Atlanta.
28 NR Matt DiBenedetto (Cup) Man, who wasn’t pulling for the former underdog DiBenedetto to score the upset win in Daytona? Unfortunately that no-smiling Menard ended things early.
29 25 Noah Gragson (Xfinity) Gragson had a bizarre penalty for being three-wide on a restart that ruined his day. Still, he found a way to finish 11th.
30 23 Cole Custer (Xfinity) You’re telling me that Cole Custer was in this week’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona? I don’t believe you.

Dropped out: Ryan Newman (27), Chris Buescher (29) and Daniel Hemric (30)

Knocking on the door: Michael Annett (won Xfinity Series race), John Hunter Nemechek (Xfinity), Justin Haley (Xfinity), Grant Enfinger (Trucks)

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