Hendrick Motorsports continues to dominate the 2023 NASCAR season.
For the third time in seven races, Hendrick ended up in victory lane last Sunday. This time, it was 2021 series champion Kyle Larson scoring his first victory of the season at Richmond Raceway.
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After the first short track race of the season last week, the series shifts gears to a completely different discipline this weekend: dirt racing. It’ll be the third straight year with a dirt race on the schedule.
Before cars hit the track for practice at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, here’s our latest power rankings:
1. William Byron
Last week: 1
Byron was on his way to a third win before a late caution bunched up the field. His crew lost a few spots on pit road and he was subsequently spun up into the wall. So, after winning Stage 1 and leading a race-high 117 laps, the No. 24 team had to settle for a 24th-place finish.
2. Kyle Larson
Last week: 4
It’s about time that luck was on Larson’s side. He dominated recent races at Las Vegas and Phoenix before late cautions doomed him, and his teammate Byron took both wins. This time, roles were reserved and Larson left with the trophy, marking his 20th career win and second at Richmond.
3. Ross Chastain
Last week: 3
Another week, another solid top-five finish for Chastain. He was third at Richmond after leading 16 laps and scoring 14 stage points. Chastain’s winless streak is closing in on a full year, but Trackhouse Racing clearly has the speed right now to prevail at any track.
4. Alex Bowman
Last week: 5
In seven races this season, Bowman has six top-10 and seven top-15 finishes. Even though his Hendrick teammates are showing more speed, Bowman has been steady and consistent every week. Richmond was another example of a good-not-great race, where Bowman finished eighth and retained the overall points lead.
5. Christopher Bell
Last week: 6
Bell leads all drivers with four top-fives this season. Richmond was his best overall race so far, finishing fourth and leading a season-high 26 laps. Bell has a dirt racing background, so Bristol could be the perfect opportunity for him to grab that first win of 2023.
6. Kyle Busch
Last week: 2
Surprisingly, Busch was a total non-factor at Richmond – where he has six career wins. He started second, but quickly dropped back and spent most of the race running outside the top-10 before finishing 14th. Busch won the dirt race at Bristol last year and has eight wins on the pavement, so he knows how to get around the Tennessee track.
7. Kevin Harvick
Last week: 8
Harvick is having the discount version of Bowman’s season. He’s been extremely consistent, with six top-15s in seven starts (including fifth-place at Richmond), but he hasn’t had race-winning speed outside of Phoenix. Harvick has struggled in the first two dirt races, with finishes of 15th and 34th.
8. Joey Logano
Last week: 7
It was a quiet seventh-place run at Richmond for Logano. While he was much better than his teammates, Logano was probably hoping for a better run at a track where he’s won twice. Looking ahead, Logano won the inaugural Bristol Dirt Race in 2021 and finished third last year.
9. Tyler Reddick
Last week: 9
Fresh off his first win of the season, Richmond was a struggle for Reddick. He spun out with just 27 laps to go but recovered to finish 16th. Still, Reddick was out of the picture for most of the day while many of his Toyota teammates were much quicker.
10. Denny Hamlin
Last week: 10
Hamlin retained the 10th spot in our power rankings for the fourth straight week. He had the speed to win at Richmond, but a series of driver and crew errors dropped him to a 20th-place finish. He had two pit road speeding penalties, an extended pit stop under green and still led 71 laps and won Stage 2.
First four out: Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Ty Gibbs