NASCAR Power Rankings: Ross Chastain takes top spot back after winning Talladega

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NASCAR power rankings: ross chastain takes top spot back after winning talladega
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With 10 races now in the record books for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, there’s enough of a sample size to discern which drivers stand out from the pack, which are mired in the middle and which ones bring up the rear. Naturally, this means just who’s at the front and when is especially of interest, especially when there’s a change at the very top of the pylon.

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By leading the exact lap he needed to at Talladega Superspeedway, Ross Chastain was able to take his second win of the season and re-take the top spot in the CBS Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, passing Ryan Blaney as Driver No. 12 moves back a spot. 

Blaney now battles Chastain for the top spot in these Power Rankings and Chase Elliott for the Cup Series points lead, as Elliott moves up to third as he continues to lead the regular season championship.

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As the finishing order of a Talladega race is often deceiving, with some who ran at the front not finishing there and others who hung out for much of the day getting it done at the finish, movement in this week’s Power Rankings was not so dramatic as weeks’ past. After leading 25 laps and nearly winning, Erik Jones is the biggest mover with four spots gained, topping five other drivers who each gained three spots. Chase Briscoe and Daniel Suarez both lost the most spots (-4), but both remain in the top 15 after early crashes prevented them from contending this past Sunday.

Here’s a look at our updated rankings in their entirety:

Rank Driver Change Comment
1 Ross Chastain indicator_rising Ross Chastain has now reached the point where he can win in the Cup Series by doing almost nothing at all and simply letting victory come to him. That bodes very well for his chances of winning more this season.
2 Ryan Blaney indicator_falling It was no surprise to see Ryan Blaney at the front on a superspeedway. Blaney led a total of 23 laps at Talladega, the best mark of any Ford driver.
3 Chase Elliott indicator_rising Although Chase Elliott has just one top five finish this season, he has racked up top 10 finishes like clockwork. He did so again at Talladega, and his lead in the Cup Series standings is now up to 21 points.
4 William Byron indicator_rising With a race-high 38 laps led at Talladega, William Byron is now the first driver to surpass 500 laps led this season. Byron’s 520 laps led are over 150 more than his nearest competitor.
5 Kyle Busch indicator_rising Kyle Busch practiced some nifty wreck evasion, narrowly avoiding cars crashing in The Big One as he dove to the bottom. The payoff for that piece of driving was a third-place finish.
6 Alex Bowman indicator_rising Alex Bowman was the only Hendrick driver who missed out on a 1-2-3 finish to end Stage 2, as he was passed for fourth at the start/finish line. In the grand scheme of things, he’ll be happy with a ninth-place finish.
7 Chase Briscoe indicator_falling Sometimes, you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s where Chase Briscoe was when Daniel Hemric shot back up the track, leading to one of the hardest hits we’ve seen this season.
8 Tyler Reddick indicator_falling Tyler Reddick’s 2022 season has become one of feast or famine. While he’s contended for wins and has three top five finishes, he also has four finishes of 24th or worse and three DNFs after Sunday.
9 Austin Dillon indicator_rising As the driver of car No. 3, Austin Dillon now has two finishes of third or better in the last three races. That’s a lot of twos and threes.
10 Joey Logano indicator_falling Entering Talladega, Joey Logano had been running at the finish in every race this season and completed all but four laps. That changed when he got turned into the outside wall, leaving him with his first DNF of the year.
11 Kyle Larson indicator_rising Kyle Larson will be part of the Talladega highlight reels for years to come, but it will serve as a reminder of how he came up short of his first superspeedway win. At least it beats the time he flipped about a dozen times down the backstretch.
12 Christopher Bell indicator_falling This week’s team meeting at Joe Gibbs Racing should be an interesting one. Christopher Bell won the pole and Talladega and led twice for seven laps, but contact with Kyle Busch leaving pit road cost him a chance at a good finish.
13 Martin Truex Jr. indicator_rising In his first three races at Talladega in the Xfinity Series, Martin Truex won three years in a row from 2004 to 2006. Truex has yet to win Talladega in Cup, but a fifth-place finish is nothing to sniff at.
14 Kevin Harvick indicator_rising Sunday at Talladega marked a nice recovery for Kevin Harvick after his DNF at Bristol. Harvick was in the mix all race long and ended up with his first top 10 since a runner-up finish at Richmond.
15 Daniel Suarez indicator_falling Had Daniel Suarez not gotten caught up in The Big One, he might have had an even better piece under him than Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain. Suarez was fast early, leading much of the opening stage for a total of 28 laps.
16 Kurt Busch indicator_neutral A win at Talladega is one of the few things that’s missing from Kurt Busch’s outstanding Cup career. It was within sight as Busch surged into the tri-oval as the leader of the outside lane, but he was frustrated again after getting shoved into the wall.
17 Erik Jones indicator_rising Erik Jones has now contended for the win twice this year and led a total of 46 laps after leading nine all of last year. Everything is looking up for That Jones Boy.
18 Aric Almirola indicator_rising Aric Almirola’s 13th place finish was respectable, but not up to the standards he set early this season. After starting the year with three-straight top 10s, he’s had just one since.
19 Brad Keselowski indicator_falling If it hadn’t been for something not calibrated correctly, Brad Keselowski likely would have been a threat to win Talladega as usual. Speeding penalties on the first and last green flag stops of the day ended up being his undoing.
20 Chris Buescher indicator_falling Chris Buescher’s only chance to avoid Chase Briscoe’s crashing car was to shoot the gap between Briscoe and the wall and hope he made it. He didn’t, leading to his second DNF of the year.
21 Justin Haley indicator_rising Justin Haley’s superspeedway pedigree was on display yet again when he ran in the top five throughout the closing laps. Haley now has four top 15 finishes this season as Kaulig Racing finds its groove.
22 Austin Cindric indicator_falling As long as he was following another car in the draft, Austin Cindric could manage just fine in the second half of Sunday’s race. But with damage to his right front fender, his car had too much drag and he had a hard time finding drafting help on his way to 21st.
23 Bubba Wallace indicator_rising Although his terrible luck bit him again coming to the checkered flag, Bubba Wallace won a stage and led 15 laps at Talladega while running up front all day. Maybe it’s because he brought the ‘stache back.
24 Michael McDowell indicator_rising After a lean period following the Daytona 500, Michael McDowell is back to contending for good finishes. McDowell now has a streak of consecutive top 10 finishes going for just the second time in his career.
25 Ty Dillon indicator_falling It would have been interesting to see if Ty Dillon could have helped change Erik Jones’ fate on the last lap. Dillon and Jones worked together early, with both taking Petty GMS cars to the front before Dillon was caught up in The Big One.
26 Cole Custer indicator_falling While he only suffered nose damage in The Big One, it looked as though Cole Custer may have gotten away with one. He didn’t, as he blew an engine shortly afterwards for his third DNF of the year.
27 Denny Hamlin indicator_falling Denny Hamlin went from having a car that didn’t run well in the draft to leading nine laps late before suffering fuel pressure problems that dropped him off the pace. It’s just been that kind of year.
28 Corey LaJoie indicator_rising It’s a stretch to compare crew chief Ryan Sparks to the legendary “Suitcase Jake” Elder. But Corey LaJoie’s results with Sparks say that if they stick together, they’ll be stacking pennies the size of you-know-whats.
29 Todd Gilliland indicator_falling Todd Gilliland was an innocent bystander in The Big One, but credit where it’s due: Gilliland was able to stay in the race longer than others who got collected, making it to lap 121 before dropping out.
30 Harrison Burton indicator_falling Just like at Daytona, Harrison Burton was involved in a crash not of his own making at Talladega. That’s just part of being a Cup rookie, as Burton has rolled with the punches in his first 10 races.
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