NASCAR Power Rankings after Bristol: Turbulence for the Big Three

  1. Kevin Harvick (+1)

Harvick finished tenth on Saturday night, which wasn’t great. However, a rough day for the Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. means Harvick ascends to the top of the power rankings once again.

  1. Kyle Busch (-1)

Busch had a really rough day at Bristol, getting caught up in a crash early, recovering, then spinning once again. The result, 20th place, could have been worse, though. A good recovery at Darlington will be key for Busch to build momentum towards the playoffs.

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (NC)

Truex finished 30th after being turned into the wall late in the race by Kyle Busch. Truex had also been caught up in the wreck involving Busch early in the race. This bad finish further distances Truex from the top two.

  1. Kurt Busch (NC)

Busch captured a much-needed victory on Saturday night. While he’s still far off the big three, a streak of six consecutive top ten finishes is drawing him slowly closer.

  1. Erik Jones (NC)

Jones finished fifth at Bristol, his third fifth-place finish in four races. In the six races since his breakthrough Daytona win, Jones has finished outside the top ten only twice, and never worse than 16th. Jones has some solid momentum as the playoffs loom.

  1. Clint Bowyer (NC)

Bowyer ended Saturday night sixth, a solid day for the Stewart-Haas driver. He ran near the front all race, which has been rare for him. This finish is his first top ten since Chicagoland back in July.

  1. Kyle Larson (+1)

Larson finished second behind Kurt Busch. That’s not shocking considering how fast Larson is at Bristol. Continuing this momentum into Darlington will be key, though, given that he hasn’t had two consecutive top five finishes all season.

  1. Chase Elliott (+1)

Much like Erik Jones, Elliott has been on fire since his win, which came at the Glen a few weeks ago, as a third place finish has extended his top ten streak to five races. Last season Elliott heated up big time during the playoffs, but can he one-up that this year?

  1. Brad Keselowski (-2)

Keselowski ended up 16th on Saturday night, continuing a exceptionally rough stretch for the Team Penske driver. In his last five races, Keselowski has finished inside the top 15 only once, a second-place finish at Michigan.

  1. Ryan Blaney (NR)

Blaney makes a reappearance in the power rankings following a seventh-place finish at Bristol. Blaney led 121 of the night’s 500 laps and won stage one. This is his sixth consecutive top 12 finish.

NASCAR Power Rankings after Michigan: The Big Drop

  1. Kyle Busch (NC)

Busch finished third on Sunday, marking his 14th top-three finish of the season. Busch has a very impressive average finish of seventh this season, a series-best. He also hasn’t finished worse than fifth at a non-restrictor plate track since Kansas, eleven races ago. Busch has also been leading in points since all the way back at Martinsville, and currently holds a 62 point lead over second place Kevin Harvick.

  1. Kevin Harvick (NC)

Harvick took the win on Sunday, his seventh of the season, a series-high. He hasn’t had quite the consistency that Busch has, and there have been instances where he’s had the fastest car and not won, but that’s certainly not to say that he’s far behind Busch. These two are bound to battle it out at Homestead in November.

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (NC)

Truex has been a little puzzling in the last few races. Since his last came at Kentucky, he finished a solid fourth at Loudon, followed a disappointing 15th at Pocono. He then nearly won at Watkins Glen, but that was tempered this week after he finished 14th. He’s started to fall back from the top two, and the big three may be no more if Truex can’t get back to form.

  1. Kurt Busch (NC)

Busch had another solid race, finishing sixth on Sunday. The finish extends his top-ten streak to five races, his longest of the season. For a driver that’s likely downgrading next season, Busch has been damn good lately.

  1. Erik Jones (+1)

After a pair of spins, it’s hard to believe that Jones is moving up in the rankings, but a remarkable recovery means he still finished 13th, and passes Kyle Larson for fifth.

  1. Clint Bowyer (+1)

Bowyer ended the race 12th, which is solid. Before Sunday, Bowyer had two consecutive 11th place finishes. Now that’s what I call consistency.

  1. Brad Keselowski (+1)

Keselowski played some strategy late in Sunday’s race, allowing him to grab a second-place finish. It’s a much needed good finish after a stretch of four out of five races outside the top 15.

  1. Kyle Larson (-3)

Larson ended up 17th, which means six of his last nine finishes have been outside the top ten, including three outside the top 20. Larson desperately needs to get out of this funk if he wants to contend for a championship later this season.

  1. Chase Elliott (NC)

Elliott finished ninth coming off his first career win at the Glen, his fourth consecutive top ten. He’s getting hot at the right time, that’s for sure. After last season, Elliott looks to make a run at Homestead.

  1. Aric Almirola (NC)

After two consecutive bad races, Almirola has stopped the skid with a seventh place finish. This inconsistency needs to end for Almirola to have any shot at a deep playoff run.

The Humans of NASCAR: Camden Murphy

In this edition of the Humans of NASCAR, I interview Camden Murphy. Hailing from Itasca, Illinois, Murphy has competed for small teams in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Despite a lack of funding, Murphy has continued to obtain rides regularly in the Truck Series. Murphy also drives the Pirate’s Curse in Monster Jam, and won rookie of the year in 2017.

This interview took place on Thursday, June 28th at Chicagoland Speedway.

How was your trip to Chicagoland?

My trip here was very short! It’s about 40 minutes, depending on traffic. It’s awesome to be this close to home, and be able to sleep in my own bed. I didn’t have a whole lot of distance to travel!

How did you get into NASCAR?

I started racing when I was about 10 years old, in 2006. I had a love for racing. I really enjoyed watching NASCAR, and always loved watching Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and all the rest of the guys. One day my dad and I went to the World of Wheels car show in downtown Chicago and saw these Mini Cup cars there, and we were sold. So we got one of those, started racing, and I was fortunate enough to have enough success along the way to continue to move up the ladder.

What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

This is my hometown track, so I’m looking forward to having my hometown crowd here, and being able to have some friends and family out here this weekend in the stands, and just to have a great time here. I grew watching races here, and now I’m here actually racing.

Who’s your favorite driver?

I look up to Carl Edwards. I know he’s retired now, but I really look up to him. One of the main reasons why is because he’s the best when it comes to interacting with the fans and the media. He looks you directly in the eye, he always takes his sunglasses off, and he always has a personality when he talks. I find a lot of the new drivers that are coming in don’t have a personality. They don’t have the best personality for the new companies and sponsors coming in. You have to have that personality, and Carl Edwards was the best brand ambassador for any company out there, not to mention that he was a good race car driver too. I don’t necessarily have [a favorite active driver].

If you could have anybody as your teammate, who would it be? They don’t have to be a driver.

That’s a tough question! I don’t know if I can answer that. I’d love to have a bunch of fans ride with me. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so if I could just take a fan along for a ride and build a team together, I think that would be interesting. If I had to pick a driver, I don’t know what to tell you. If I could bring Carl Edwards out of retirement I would!

Tell me something unique about yourself that’s not related to NASCAR

My life is based around racing. I eat, sleep, breathe it. I live out of my car, I drive to all the races. This is my life. A lot of people might not know that I’m really heavily tied with the Ronald McDonald House charities. I’ve been with them since Christmas morning 2012 and have been donating my time with them. I’ve been trying to carry them through every form of motorsports that I’ve been involved with in the last twelve years of racing. I’ve donated my time in multiple cities. This year I was fortunate enough to visit a bunch of different Ronald McDonald houses all across the west coast with Monster Jam. A lot of people might not know that I do both Monster Jam and NASCAR. I’m the only one out there that does that, and that’s pretty cool.

What’s the most emotional you’ve been while watching or competing in a race?

Another tough one! I can’t say this is the most emotional, but one of them had to have been in 2014, when I made my first NASCAR start. I always set that goal, which was always to be there during the national anthem, next to a truck that I’m racing in front of all these NASCAR fans on TV. There’s that moment when they’re singing the national anthem, and the time when they say “driver’s, start your engines.” That’s a time that becomes very emotional for me, because it’s a goal that I set for myself, that I’m now achieving. I’m doing this for a living now! This is my job, and something I never thought would happen, but I set it as a goal, and I tried to make it happen.

If you could change one thing in NASCAR, what would you change?

How much it costs! There’s a lot of drivers out there that can’t get the opportunity that they deserve because they can’t afford it. It costs way too much. It’s not like football, baseball, soccer, or any of those sports where the best of the best get chosen. It’s not like that anymore. It really comes down to how big your checkbook is, and how much money you can bring. Unfortunately, that’s where I’m at right now. I can’t get these other opportunities because I don’t have the funding. If we could change that and make it how it was back in the day, I’d love to do it.

What do you want your signature “thing” to be as you grow your racing career?

I’d really have to think about that. I’d like for the fans to know my story. Where I’ve come from, where I’ve been, and how I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome thus far in your racing career?

Being able to do this every week, and get paid to do it. Being able to get phone calls from race teams every week to drive for them, and to be able to make a living doing it. I’m very fortunate be able to have that happening.

What’s your pre-race jam?

Honestly, I don’t have one. I just try to get in the zone. My pre-race ritual, rather, would be to put everything on a certain way, I give my crew members knuckles before I get in the truck, and then I go from there.

What’s the most awkward conversation you’ve had with another driver?

There was a conversation I had with another driver where we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye at a race in 2015, at Madison International Speedway. I’m not going to get into details, but there were no choice words or anything. It was just a conversation, and we just didn’t see eye-to-eye on a certain situation, let’s just say that.

Is there anything else you want to tell fans who read this?

Thank you. If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. I say it every single time, whether it’s a Monster Jam show, and every single time I get a microphone in front of me here in NASCAR, whenever I’m lucky enough to get that opportunity. It’s so amazing to see the support that I, a little guy, has. I’m nobody, and to have people supporting me, following me on social media, asking me how I’m doing, and asking me for my autograph when I’m out in public. I never expected people to recognize me, so thank you to the fans.

NASCAR Power Rankings after the Glen: Business in the Front, Party in the Back

  1. Kyle Busch (NC)

Despite fuel issues on the last pit stop of the day, Busch ended the day third, behind Martin Truex Jr. and winner Chase Elliott. Busch now rides a streak of four consecutive top four finishes, and has a total of 16 top five finishes in the 22 races so far this season.

  1. Kevin Harvick (NC)

Harvick didn’t really show up all day, ending up tenth. Lucky for him, only one more road course remains this season. It might be an important one, though, given it takes place during the playoffs at the roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He and Kyle Busch are very closely matched, both with six wins, 16 top five finishes and 18 top ten finishes. Busch, however, bests Harvick in points and average finish.

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (NC)

Truex has fallen back from the top two, but was the fastest of them on Sunday. He fought Chase Elliott for the win, but ran out of fuel two corners short of the finish line, and ended up second. The runner-up finish acts as a nice rebound from a disappointing 15th place finish at Pocono last weekend.

  1. Kurt Busch (NC)

Busch has been the strongest outside of the top three as of late. A ninth place finish means he’s on a four-race top ten streak, his second of the season. Busch only has three top five finishes, but has collected 13 top ten finishes as well, and has an average finish of just better than 13th.

  1. Kyle Larson (NC)

Larson ended the day in sixth place, a solid drive, and a nice recovery from a 23rd place finish at Pocono. The finish is Larson’s 12th top ten finish of 2018.

  1. Erik Jones (+3)

Jones finished fifth at the Glen, following up a fifth at Pocono the weekend before. Jones is now on a streak of six top ten finishes in seven races, including his win at Daytona and two other top five finishes. Another win could solidify him as a legitimate championship contender.

  1. Clint Bowyer (-1)

Bowyer finished 11th at the Glen, a rather disappointing day for the skilled road course racer. Bowyer hasn’t score a top ten finish since he finished fifth at Chicagoland over a month ago.

  1. Brad Keselowski (-1)

A third consecutive finish worse than 15th is disappointing for Keselowski, especially considering he’s been strong at road courses in the past. Like Bowyer, Keselowski has rapidly fallen from grace in the last few weeks.

  1. Chase Elliott (NR)

Elliott won at the Glen on Sunday, and had been on a strong run in the last three weeks. In that time, Elliott has won three stages, led 150 laps, and finally grabbed his first career win. Keeping this up could launch Elliott up the rankings. After seeing how Elliott heated up in last year’s playoffs, his competitors should take notice.

  1. Aric Almirola (-2)

Almirola ended up getting turned into the turn seven wall early in Sunday’s race. He would continue, but never got close to seventh, where he started the day. Instead, he ended up with a finish of 22nd. In the last six races, Almirola has finished outside the top 20 four times, despite leading over 100 laps in that timespan.

NASCAR Power Rankings: A New Leader After Pocono

  1. Kyle Busch (+2)

Busch won Sunday’s race, which, at this point, is basically a guarantee to get the top spot in the power rankings if you’re one of the big three. This ties him with Kevin Harvick in terms of wins, with six apiece. Busch now has three consecutive top five finishes, and eight of his last nine. Busch has finished worse than fifth in only three of the season’s 18 non-restrictor plate events.

  1. Kevin Harvick (-1)

Harvick clearly had the fastest car Sunday, but between having to start from the rear and contact with Aric Almirola on pit road, Harvick couldn’t pull it off. Even after all that, Harvick still pulled off a fourth-place finish. Like Busch, Harvick only has three finishes worse than fifth in the 18 non-restrictor plate races this season.

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (-1)

Truex just didn’t have what it took to run up front, or even top ten at Pocono. He finished 15th and never scored a single stage point. It was a disappointing performance, especially considering Truex won the first race at Pocono a bit over a month ago. The lackluster performance wasn’t entirely out of left field, though. Truex had a similar run at the similar track at Michigan. While Truex can beat Harvick and Busch some weekends, these runs are certainly worrying. However, neither Michigan nor Pocono appears in the playoffs, fortunately for Truex.

  1. Kurt Busch (+1)

Busch finished ninth at Pocono, his third consecutive top ten. Busch has found some decent speed these last few races. He’s nowhere near the big three, but he’s been decent, with an average finish of 13th so far this season.

  1. Kyle Larson (-1)

Larson had a decent run going, but fell all the way back to 23rd after being squeezed between teammate Jamie McMurray and Michael McDowell. The damage wasn’t too severe, but there wasn’t time for Larson to recover.

  1. Clint Bowyer (+2)

Bowyer ended the day 11th, which isn’t too bad, but didn’t match the speed he had at times during this season. To have any chance at the championship, he’ll need to pick it up, big time.

  1. Brad Keselowski (-1)

Keselowski was having a good run until Kyle Larson got into him, cutting down his right rear tire and sending him into the wall. The wreck ended Keselowski’s day and he ended up 38th.

  1. Aric Almirola (-1)

Almirola was slowly working his way through the pack from a starting position of 34th until a late-race pit road collision with teammate Kevin Harvick derailed his run. Almirola ended up back in 25th. Recently, Almirola has shown more flashes of speed than either of his teammates not named Kevin Harvick, but has been more fraught with issues than either of them. He and his team will certainly need to work those problems out if they want to win.

  1. Erik Jones (+1)

Jones is continuing his hot streak with a fifth place finish at Pocono. Jones has scored five top five finishes in his last six races, his best stretch of the season.

  1. Joey Logano (-1)

Logano started back in 30th, and contact with Corey Lajoie gave him front end damage, which hindered him all day. He fell a lap down, and only got back on the lead lap after the final caution, a few laps before the checkered flag fell. Logano ended the day in 26th.