NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick wins again at Richmond originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
After getting his 58th career win in September 2020, Kevin Harvick waited 65 races to earn his 59th victory last week.
To get win No. 60, the 46-year-old veteran only had to wait seven days. Harvick triumphed at Richmond Raceway on Sunday, leading 55 laps – more than he led in the first 23 races of 2022 combined.
There are just two races left in the regular season – the road course at Watkins Glen next week and the superspeedway at Daytona after that.
So, who’s the driver to beat as the playoffs draw near? Here’s our latest power rankings:
1. Chase Elliott
Last week: 1
By finishing fifth at Richmond, Elliott is just four points away from clinching the regular-season title (and the all-important 15 playoff-point bonus). Richmond hasn’t been Elliott’s best track, but Watkins Glen certainly has. He has two wins and a runner-up in his last three starts at the road course.
2. Christopher Bell
Last week: 5
Outside of a crash at Michigan last week, Bell has been one of the series’ hottest drivers since he won at New Hampshire. Bell finished second at Richmond, and he might’ve won if the race was a few more laps as he was running down Harvick.
3. Denny Hamlin
Last week: 6
After a dismal start to the year, Hamlin is up to 12th in the standings with his fourth-place Richmond run. Rounding into form for the playoffs, the No. 11 led 22 laps and grabbed 17 stage points. Next week could be a struggle for Hamlin, though – he hasn’t scored a top-10 in four road course races this season.
4. Ross Chastain
Last week: 2
It was a tale of two races for Chastain, who won the first stage handily before fading to finish two laps down in 18th. He’s finished 18th or worse in four straight races. Most critically, Chastain added another name to his growing list of enemies after connecting with Kyle Busch, who hilariously used “Chastain” as a verb in his post-race interview.
5. Kevin Harvick
Last week: 8
Nobody saw this coming. Eight days ago, Harvick was poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Now, he is among the top championship contenders and one of only seven drivers with multiple wins. On a bigger scale, Harvick became just the 10th driver in Cup Series history with 60 career wins.
6. Kyle Larson
Last week: 3
Larson won his first pole of the season and scored 17 stage points, but he dropped to finish 14th. This has become a troubling trend for the defending champion, where he’s run well at times but can’t seem to put together complete races. Larson still has just one victory – way back in February – after winning 10 times last season.
7. Ryan Blaney
Last week: 4
Harvick’s win helped Blaney, who holds a 26-point lead over Martin Truex Jr. for the final playoff spot after finishing 10th at Richmond. Still, one new winner at Watkins Glen or Daytona will bump him out. Even though he’s second in the overall standings, Blaney remains in a precarious position without a victory.
8. Joey Logano
Last week: 9
Logano led a race-high 222 of 400 laps at Richmond, but cloud cover in the final stage hurt his car and he finished sixth. Still, Logano now has three straight top-six finishes and his summer slump appears to be over. In a season of uncertainty, Logano’s veteran savvy will be a huge asset in the playoffs.
9. Martin Truex Jr.
Last week: 7
At one of his best tracks, Truex was a non-factor for the win while finishing seventh. Not a bad run by any means, but this seemed like Truex’s best opportunity to win and make the playoffs. The road courses haven’t been kind to Joe Gibbs Racing and Daytona can be a crapshoot. MTJ is in legitimate danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
10. Kyle Busch
Last week: 10
Finally, the streak is over: Busch has his first top-10 since June 5, an eight-race streak that was the longest of his career. Ninth-place isn’t what Busch aims for, but the monkey is off his back. He took the hard road to get there, too, after getting spun by Chastain in the final stage.
First four out: Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher