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CXT (Cup, Xfinity, Truck) Power Rankings: Who Carries Most Momentum Into 2019?

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 18: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with his wife, Brittany, and son, Hudson, after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

By Toby Christie         

The NASCAR fan base deserves a better type of Power Rankings article. Other sites stop simply at the top-15 or 20 Cup Drivers, which is fine. But they all have the same feel to them. It’s like reading the same thing in 100 different places. That’s not good enough.

So, I went to the drawing board to help provide a better service for the race fans. Then, it dawned on me.

Why not rank the top-30 drivers over all of the three National Series divisions (Cup, Xfinity and Truck). This is the first edition of my CXT (Cup/Xfinity/Truck) Power Rankings.

Rank Prev Driver (Series)
1 n/a Joey Logano (Cup) Logano won two of the final four races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. One of those wins was the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homstead-Miami Speedway. As a result, Logano now heads into 2019 as the defending series champion.
2 n/a Kevin Harvick (Cup) Harvick recorded an incredible eight wins and 29 top-10 finishes in 36 starts a season ago. He comes into 2019 with only one question mark: will the new Mustang body slow his No. 4 team?
3 n/a Kyle Busch (Cup) Like Harvick, Busch had eight wins in 2018. Unlike Harvick, none of his were encumbered. Also, Busch doesn’t have a brand new body being bolted onto his racecar in 2019. There is a chance that Busch surpasses Harvick on this list early in the season.
4 n/a Martin Truex Jr. (Cup) Truex has been one of  the best — if not the greatest — driver in the sport the last three seasons. Unfortunately the team (Furniture Row Racing) that helped the journeyman driver turn into a champion closed down in the off-season. Truex should be good as he brings long-time crew chief Cole Pearn with him to Joe Gibbs Racing but there is uncertainty.
5 n/a Chase Elliott (Cup) After so many close calls and missed opportunities, Elliott finally broke through for his first-career win in 2018. In all, Elliott won three races, and they all came in the second-half of the season. Elliott was among the strongest driver as the Cup Series season drew to a close. He should carry momentum over to this year.
6 n/a Brad Keselowski (Cup) Death, taxes and Brad Keselowski winning a race, those are the only certainties in life. Keselowski won three more races in 2018 including the iconic Brickyard 400 and Southern 500 in back-to-back weekends. Keselowski will continue rolling in 2019.
7 n/a Clint Bowyer (Cup) It was a nice return to grace for Bowyer, who was once a perennial championship contender. Bowyer captured his first two victories since the 2012 season. Bowyer should pick up some more steam this season.
8 n/a Kyle Larson (Cup) Wow, Kyle Larson didn’t win a race in 2018. But he was pretty damn close, a lot. That gives me benefit of the doubt that Larson will return to his winning ways in 2019.
9 n/a Ryan Blaney (Cup) Blaney was in the right place at the right time at the Roval to collect a win when Jimmie Johnson collected Martin Truex Jr. Now, it looks like Blaney could collect more in 2019.
10 n/a Christopher Bell (Xfinity) Is there anyone who has ever looked more ready to go to the Cup Series than Christopher Bell? SEVEN wins in 2018. He’s back in NXS for another year.
11 n/a Denny Hamlin (Cup) Time is fading quickly for Hamlin in his career. He didn’t win a race in 2018, can he turn things around this year?
12 n/a Aric Almirola (Cup) What a breath of fresh air Almirola was this past season. The 34-year-old won at Talladega and was in the mix for wins quite consistently all year.
13 n/a Erik Jones (Cup) That Jones boy won Daytona in July. However, I’m more impressed with his consistency over the stretch.
14 n/a Brett Moffitt (Trucks) Moffitt won six races and the Truck Series championship in 2018, however that wasn’t enough for him to keep his ride at Hattori Racing. Moffitt moves to GMS Racing this year to defend his title.
15 n/a Tyler Reddick (Xfinity) I know, he won the 2018 NXS title. But that isn’t enough to elevate Reddick to being the highest ranked NXS driver on this list. However, he does make it into the top-half of the list.
16 n/a Jimmie Johnson (Cup) 2018 was a bad season for Jimmie Johnson. No wins. And he consistently made bad errors when in position for good finishes. He will look to get back to championship form in ’19.
17 n/a Alex Bowman (Cup) Bowman may not have won a race in 2018, but he took a decent step forward in his career. He finally has the first full-season at HMS under his belt. He made the Playoffs. Now he looks for more.
18 n/a Kurt Busch (Cup) Alright, I will probably get blasted for putting Busch this low on the list but he is taking over what has looked to be a subpar No. 1 car for the past few seasons at Chip Ganassi Racing. Busch could jump up the list quickly if he turns things around for the team.
19 n/a Daniel Suarez (Cup) Suarez had a bitter divorce from Joe Gibbs Racing. Now he looks to race with a chip on his shoulder to prove his worth. This will turn out one of two ways. See Joey Logano for the positive spin. Research Casey Atwood for the negative outcome.
20 n/a Justin Allgaier (Xfinity) It was a career year for Allgaier that produced five victories in the NXS. However, bad luck ended his championship hopes early. He will seek that elusive title again this year.
21 n/a Austin Dillon (Cup) If you’re keeping score at home, Austin Dillon has made the Playoffs in each of the past three seasons. Why’s he so low on this list? Had it not been for crashing Aric Almirola on the last lap of Daytona, he would not have made it to the Playoffs in 2018.
22 n/a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Cup) Stenhouse and Roush Fenway Racing definitely regressed from where they were in 2017. The team will look to address some areas of weakness, and perhaps Stenhouse will be back in victory lane in 2019.
23 n/a Cole Custer (Xfinity) Cole Custer had the 2018 NXS title wrapped up. He was far and away the best car, however poor strategy by his crew chief foiled his shot. Now Custer is back with a new crew chief to try it again.
24 n/a Paul Menard (Cup) Menard is that guy who just quietly puts together decent finishes. If he can stay away from bad luck, he may be a Playoff contender in 2019.
25 n/a Noah Gragson (Xfinity) Gragson may have only recorded one Truck win last year, but he still finished second in the championship. Now he moves to the NXS, where he had three top-10 finishes in three starts last year.
26 n/a William Byron (Cup) It was not the rookie season you expected for the driver who racked up 11 wins in two seasons between the Trucks and NXS. However, Byron did have flashes of brilliance in his Cup rookie year. He should move up the rankings quickly.
27 n/a Ryan Newman (Cup) Newman just keeps going in reverse, it seems. From Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing, to RCR, and now to Roush Fenway Racing. It looks like the end may be near. Or Newman could be a pivotal piece in saving RFR.
28 n/a Ryan Preece (Cup) If there is any young driver who can elevate a team that is around a 15th-place car each week I think it will be Ryan Preece. He will look to do that in his rookie season for JTG Daugherty Racing.
29 n/a Chris Buescher (Cup) Buescher has competed admirably for JTG Daugherty Racing over the last couple of seasons, but now it’s time for them to take the next step.
30 n/a Daniel Hemric (Cup) Hemric was incredible — despite not winning — in the NXS last season. Now he moves to the Cup Series in car No. 8 for Richard Childress Racing.

Notes of interest:

Why hardly any Truck Series love? With guys like Johnny Sauter (currently ride less) and Justin Haley (in NXS) not looking like they’ll be back in the series this season it is hard to justify putting another driver from the series onto the rankings at this time.

As 2019 begins to unfold, that could certainly change!

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