NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Larson's win moves him up

Welcome to Power Rankings. As always, Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it’s the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. Direct all your complaints to us at nickbromberg@yahoo.com and we’ll try to have some fun.

1. Kyle Larson (LW: 3): When a guy gets his second win of the season and it vaults him to the top of the points standings there’s no excuse to not have him at No. 1 in Power Rankings.

He said he didn’t have the race’s fastest car either. That honor went to Martin Truex Jr.

“Seemed like whenever [Truex] wanted to get the lead, he hit a nitro button and would cruise up to the lead, then check out,” Larson said. “He was the class of the field.

“I thought [Kyle Busch] was next best. [Matt Kenseth] was better than I was on the long run. I thought we were probably a third‑ or fourth‑place car. To come out a winner, it makes it that much more exciting, I guess. I guess it would be disappointing if I finished outside the top 10 or something. For not having the dominant car, to do everything right to get a win today, was special.”

Points position: 1st
Race wins: 2
Stage wins: 3

2. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 1): Truex agreed with Larson’s assessment that he had the best car. Truex won the first two stages of the race.

“We had the best car out there without a doubt – just inside lane restarts at the end killed us, so just stinks when you have to race like that, you know?” Truex said. “You get just in a bad spot and there’s nothing you can do about it. We seen it the last couple restarts, so just wrong place. Probably should have took two tires that last time we pitted – we took four. That killed us. Just wrong lane on the restart every single time all day long and couldn’t use the best car to win.”

Points position: 2nd
Race wins: 2
Stage wins: 10


3. Kyle Busch (LW: 4): Busch once again didn’t talk to media after the race. He finished seventh after he lost the lead to Larson on a restart with 15 laps to go.

Busch’s disappointment is understandable, but it also may be magnified a bit. He’s third in the points standings, though you may not know it from his disappointment after the last couple of races.

Points position: 3rd
Race wins: 0
Stage wins: 4

4. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): Harvick finished 14th after contact with Ryan Blaney.

Blaney had to check up and Harvick got forced into him on the backstretch by Daniel Suarez. But before the incident, Harvick wasn’t a challenger for the lead anyway. He consistently had a car inside the top 15 but not one that challenged for the lead.

“Tight all day long and we could not get it loosened up enough to be able to challenge,” Harvick said.

Points position: 4th
Race wins: 0
Stage wins: 3

5. Chase Elliott (LW: 8): We’re not trying to simply be a rundown of the points standings here, but Elliott moves up three spots after he finished second to Larson at Michigan for the second-straight time. Elliott didn’t lead any laps, but he was the fastest Hendrick Motorsports car all day after starting 10th.

Elliott said Larson had to make a mistake if he was going to catch him for the win.

“Once we singled out in line, it’s difficult to pass in a short period of time,” Elliott said. “Sure, I think he would have had to have made a bobble for me to get to him.  He had probably about a second on me. I wasn’t close enough to get to him or make a move.”

Points position: 5th
Race wins: 0
Stage wins: 2

6. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 6): Johnson finished 10th after he started at the back of the field because of a practice wreck. We would love to know what Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus was thinking after he brought Johnson down pit road for fresh tires after a caution for a trash bag on lap 8.

Knaus pitted Johnson anticipating NASCAR to call a competition caution on lap 20 like it said it would. But after teams pitted, NASCAR moved the competition caution to lap 25. Moving a caution five laps can impact a team’s strategy significantly.

Points position: 8th
Race wins: 3
Stage wins: 0

7. Jamie McMurray (LW: 9): McMurray is continuing his season of being fast but not really fast. He’s got the ninth-most stage points, but he’s led laps in just two races. He finished fifth on Sunday.

“It almost seemed like the track was going through a weird transition at the beginning,” McMurray said. “Where you get two or three good laps and it almost was like you catch a gust of wind and have to hang on to the car. You would slide up the race track, but [the team] did a really good job adjusting on it.”

Points position: 7th
Race wins: 0
Stage wins 0

8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 5): Keselowski hasn’t won a Cup Series race at his home track in Michigan and never had the track position to challenge for it Sunday. He was constantly around Harvick in that top-15 range and ended up 16th and said the team “wasn’t really where we needed to be.”

Points position: 6th
Race wins: 2
Stage wins: 2

9. Ryan Blaney (LW: 7): Blaney had a fast car and helped Kyle Larson get the lead over Kyle Busch at the end of the race with a big push immediately after the restart.

But he fell to 25th, the next-to-last car on the lead lap after that contact with Kevin Harvick because of a flat tire and damage to the car.

Points position: 13th
Race wins: 1
Stage wins: 3

10. Denny Hamlin (LW: 10): A day after winning the Xfinity Series race, Hamlin finished fourth. He was second on the race’s final restart, but Larson had the preferred outside lane. As Hamlin tried to dive into the corner under Larson, his car didn’t stick.

“The biggest thing [about not being in the preferred lane] is you try to minimize how many spots you lose versus how much you gain, but when you’re sitting there side-by-side for the lead, you’re going to try to do everything you can,” Hamlin said. “I tried to carry speed in there and obviously got sucked around there and you just try to minimize your losses at that point.”

Points position: 9th
Race wins: 0
Stage wins: 2

11. Joey Logano (LW: NR): Logano finished third and announced after the race that he and his wife were expecting a baby later in the year. That’s not a bad Father’s Day at all.

“Yeah, you have no idea how good this feels,” Logano said of the finish. “It’s been a struggle the last month-and-a-half and it’s nice to come here to Michigan, maybe our best race track and be able to overcome a lot.”

Points position: 10th
Race wins: 1*
Stage wins: 1

12. Matt Kenseth (LW: 12): Kenseth finished 11th and could have finished a heck of a lot higher if he didn’t slide through his pit box twice while entering for pit stops. One of those times happened on the final stops of the day.

Points position: 11th
Race wins: 0
Stage wins: 1

Lucky Dog: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ninth-place finish was just his third top-10 of the season.

The DNF: Sunday’s race at Michigan had 37 cars. It was missing the No. 55 of Premium Motorsports and the No. 51 of Rick Ware Racing, two cars that typically are multiple laps down at the end of the race or end up behind the wall. But even without those two cars, it was crazy to see that 36 of the 37 cars in the field completed at least 194 of 200 laps. The only car that didn’t was Danica Patrick’s because of her crash.

Dropped out: Austin Dillon


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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!