NASCAR is in full swing now heading into Atlanta Motor Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing and the Toyota camp is on the rise in this week’s power rankings. Meanwhile, one championship contending team takes a slide after Daytona. Here are your rankings heading into the ATL:
1. Kyle Busch (Last Week – #1)
While he may not have come across the line first in the Great American Race, Kyle Busch proved on Sunday that he could still race on the restrictor plate tracks after his gruesome crash there last year in the Xfinity Series. And look for him to get back to his winning ways early in 2016.
2. Denny Hamlin (Last Week – #4)
To the victor goes the spoils – of a rise in the rankings that is. After winning his first Daytona 500, and the first for manufacturer Toyota, look for Hamlin to carry that momentum this weekend into Atlanta.
3. Martin Truex Jr. (Last Week – #5)
While many thought Furniture Row Racing wouldn’t skip a beat in their switch from Chevy to Toyota, few believed that they would immediately jump to nearly winning the Daytona 500. And they only missed it by a few feet.
4. Kevin Harvick (Last Week – #2)
Harvick raced like his nickname “the closer” would suggest on Sunday – coming from back in the back to finish fourth. But his late race shove to Denny Hamlin was what would propel the #11 car forward to victory.
5. Matt Kenseth (Last Week – #7)
He could’ve been ranked higher this week heading into Atlanta, if it wasn’t for the last lap heroics by Denny Hamlin. Coming into Turn 4, it looked as if Matt Kenseth was set to win the Daytona 500. But by the time they crossed the line, he was fourteenth.
6. Joey Logano (Last Week – #3)
He quietly came across the line in sixth last week at Daytona, but by keeping his nose clean and being conservative, he moves on to fight another day heading into the bread and butter of his best chance to win.
7. Carl Edwards (Last Week – #10)
Coming across the line fifth in the Daytona 500 makes for a great day for any team. But finishing fifth with a beat up car that could have finished many laps down is an amazing feat for the driver and crew.
8. Jimmie Johnson (Last Week – #6)
Hendrick Motorsports had a bad Sunday at Daytona. After seeing Chase Elliott land on the pole for the 500, two cars would crash out, while Jimmie Johnson would finish in sixteenth after pit road troubles.
9. Kurt Busch (Last Week – #8)
Coming home in tenth on Sunday, Busch remained quiet throughout the day, not being able to compete with the Joe Gibbs Racing cars at the front of the pack. The question becomes if the Chevys can catch up with the Toyotas.
10. Kyle Larson (Last Week – NR)
Arguably the biggest surprise throughout the Daytona 500 was the renewed strength of Kyle Larson. A top ten finish plus running in the lead pack all day long will go a long way to build his confidence.
The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 gets underway on Sunday at 12:30 pm local time, on your local FOX station.