NASCAR power rankings: The best drivers heading to Darlington this week

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Alex Andrejev
·2 min read
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NASCAR is getting ready to race at Darlington, where teams will honor the sport’s history with vintage paint schemes for Throwback Weekend, as well as celebrate moms on Mother’s Day. The 12th race of the Cup Series season is 3:30 p.m. Sunday on FS1.

Below are The Observer’s NASCAR power rankings for the week of May 3. This list is updated each week.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Joey Logano (-1) is fourth in NASCAR point standings behind Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and William Byron, respectively. He finished 17th at Kansas most recently after crashing out at Talladega the week prior to send him down a spot in weekly power rankings behind Penske teammate Brad Keselowski. Logano won the Bristol dirt race and has four top-five finishes (six top-10s).

Brad Keselowski (+1) is on his second straight week of climbing the power rankings ladder after winning the race at Talladega and finishing third at Kansas. He has five top-fives and five top-10 finishes in 11 races. At Darlington last season, Keselowski finished 13th, fourth and 11th, respectively, and led laps during the first two races at the track last year.

TOP 3:

3. William Byron (no change) remains ranked third in power rankings after his ninth-place finish at Kansas, where Kyle Busch secured his first win of the 2021 season (58th in his career). On Sunday, Byron earned his ninth top-10 in a row, including his win at Homestead, to mark his longest string of top-10 finishes in the 23-year-old driver’s NASCAR career. He had eight top-10s in a row during his 2017 Xfinity Series season, including three wins in that streak, while driving for JR Motorsports with crew chief David Elenz. Byron earned his most career wins in a single season in 2016 in the Truck Series with crew chief Rudy Fugle, who is Byron’s current crew chief.

2. Denny Hamlin (-1) gets knocked from the power rankings leaderboard after finishing 12th at Kansas. Hamlin blew a tire late in the race while trying to defend the lead from Kyle Larson. Hamlin led seven laps at Kansas and has eight top-five finishes in 11 races this year, but he is now the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver without a win in 2021 following Busch’s victory. Hamlin last finished 13th at Darlington, but he had two top-fives, including a win, at the track last season.

1. Martin Truex Jr. (+1) moves up to the No. 1 spot this week heading to Darlington. Truex Jr. finished sixth at Kansas, rebounding from the 36th place spot at Talladega the week prior. He earned his seventh top-10 finish of the season and is still the only driver with multiple wins in 2021. Last season at Darlington, Truex Jr. finished sixth, 10th and 22nd, respectively, but he’s off to stronger start with his team this year.