Wednesday, May 31 2023

The results of Circuit of the Americas shuffled the power rankings. But more than that, the combined results of the last four races show who could be the drivers to beat in the months ahead.

With oval races at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas, 1-mile Phoenix and 1.5-mile high-banked Atlanta plus the COTA road course, those four races combined give a glimpse of which drivers have been the most consistent and excelled at a variety of tracks.

So the driver with the most points in those four races — William Byron (obviously not including the 100-point penalty to the Hendrick cars for pieces confiscated following practice at Phoenix) — vaults to the top spot in these rankings:

1. William Byron (Last week: 4)

Byron won the pole and led 28 laps on his way to finishing fifth at COTA, capping a four-race stretch where he won twice and averaged 40.5 points per race — and that includes a 32nd-place finish last week at Atlanta where he got caught up in an accident. Even without his crew chief on the pit box (the Hendrick appeal to the Phoenix penalties is Wednesday), Byron is showing impressive speed.

2. Alex Bowman (LW: 3) 

Bowman ranks third in the last four races with 146 points and his third-place finish at COTA was his third top-5 and fifth top-10 in six races this year. Yes, Kyle Busch finished a spot ahead of him at COTA, but Busch had the advantage of doing the tire test in January. Plus Bowman just seems a little more consistent.


3. Kyle Busch (LW: 4)

Busch ranks seventh among drivers in points earned in the last four races, and his second-place finish at COTA was his first top-5 since his win at Fontana in the second race of the year. And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win Richmond this weekend.

4. Ross Chastain (LW: 2)

Chastain finished fourth at COTA and ranks ninth among drivers in points earned in the last four races. But he hasn’t made too many friends the last couple of weeks and while that is the nature of running up front, that can’t be a good thing.

5. Tyler Reddick (LW: NR)

Reddick’s win at COTA vaulted him to second among drivers in points earned in the last four races. And he needed them after earning just four points in the first two races. COTA marked his third consecutive top-5 finish with a third, fifth and first in his last three starts.

‘I was extremely motivated’

Tyler Reddick spoke with Regan Smith after his huge win at COTA.

6. Christopher Bell (LW: 7)

Bell ranks fifth among drivers in points earned in the last four races and he would be higher than that if he didn’t get involved in the chaos that engulfed the field in the overtime restarts at COTA. His fans on social say he is being disrespected in these rankings, and possibly so with three top-five finishes this year. But how high should he be, considering he has led only 2.1 percent of laps this year?

7. Kyle Larson (LW: 8) 

Larson ranks fourth among drivers in points earned in the last four races, and that includes a comeback of sorts at COTA where he finished 14th after being involved in a couple of incidents. He for the most part has had the speed, but he can’t let the frustration mount.

8. Austin Cindric (LW: NR)

Cindric ranks sixth among drivers in points earned the past four races and quietly is putting together a solid season. He doesn’t have a top-5 yet this year but a sixth at COTA was his second top-10. Is he really the highest Penske driver in these rankings right now? Yes, he is.

9. Kevin Harvick (LW: 1) 

His 13th-place finish at COTA shouldn’t mean that everyone needs to jump off the bandwagon, but he does rank 11th among drivers in points earned in the past four races (thanks mostly to the Atlanta wreck). He needs to have a good race this weekend at Richmond.

EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix highlights

Tyler Reddick captured the checkered flag in overtime at COTA, earning his fourth career Cup Series win.

10. Ryan Blaney (LW: 9) 

Blaney ranks eighth among drivers in the last four races, so he stays on this list (Hamlin 10th and Logano 14th dropped out). Another victim of the overtime chaos at COTA, Blaney really could use a race with no hiccups.

On the verge: Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Corey LaJoie, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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