NASCAR Power Rankings: Is William Byron on top after sixth victory of 2023?

Byron leads all drivers with six wins this season after entering 2023 with four wins in his career

Thomas Walko/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The longer the NASCAR playoffs go, the tougher things get for championship contenders.

Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, the fourth of 10 playoff events, was yet another eventful race for NASCAR’s best drivers. Five of the 12 remaining playoff contenders were involved in accidents.

William Byron – the No. 1 seed – avoided the carnage and won his series-best sixth race of 2023 to clinch a spot in the Round of 8. The victory also gave Hendrick Motorsports its 300th Cup Series win, making it the first organization to accomplish that feat.

The Round of 12 is far from over, but several drivers are in serious danger after Texas. Upcoming races at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course will determine who moves on to the Round of 8, with only Byron officially locked in.

Here’s our latest NASCAR power rankings heading into the YellaWood 400 at Talladega (Sunday, Oct. 1, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC,

1. Denny Hamlin

Last week: 1

Even massive right-side damage suffered from pit road contact with a teammate can’t slow Hamlin down. The No. 11 somehow didn’t lose much, if any, speed after Ty Gibbs plowed into Hamlin's car early in the race. He finished fifth and scored 10 stage points, putting him in a good position to advance forward if he can avoid disaster at Talladega and Charlotte.

2. William Byron

Last week: 4

Despite having an average running position of 13th on Sunday, Byron capitalized in the final laps to steal another victory on the final restart. Four of his six wins this season have come on a pass for the lead in the final six laps of the race. The 25-year-old Byron can now look ahead to the Round of 8 as he seeks his first career Championship 4 appearance.

3. Kyle Larson

Last week: 2

Everything changed in an instant for Larson on Sunday. He was running away with the win before a late caution. Then, while battling Bubba Wallace for the win, his car got out of shape and he abruptly spun into the wall to finish 31st. After leading 99 laps and winning Stage 2, Larson is now just two points above the cut line as he heads to one of his worst tracks.

4. Chris Buescher

Last week: 3

It’s rare to see Buescher finish worse than he ran all day, but that’s exactly what happened at Texas. He scored 15 stage points, most among all drivers, but faded to finish 14th. The Texas native is still 22 points above the cut line – it just feels like he threw away some points.

5. Brad Keselowski

Last week: 6

Buescher’s teammate didn’t have the same pace, but he ended up with a better finish. Keselowski crossed the line in seventh, giving him five straight top-10 finishes. No driver is more excited to visit Talladega, as Keselowski has six wins at the track – tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon and trailing only Dale Earnhardt Sr. (10) on the all-time list.

6. Christopher Bell

Last week: 8

Bell strategically finished third in Stage 1 and ended the race in fourth after avoiding a handful of accidents. The No. 20 didn’t have nearly the same speed at Texas as it did in the Round of 16, though. But with all the misfortune around him, Bell is now 20 points above the cut line.

7. Tyler Reddick

Last week: 5

Reddick, using the same strategy as Bell, won Stage 1 and led 36 laps. He didn’t have the pace to run out front much longer and eventually dropped outside the top-10. Then, late in the race, he hit the wall and triggered a massive wreck before limping home in 25th. Reddick is three points below the cut line entering Talladega.

8. Martin Truex Jr.

Last week: 7

What has happened to Truex? As soon as the playoffs started, the regular season champion fell off a cliff. He barely escaped the Round of 16 and had no pace in a 17th-place finish at Texas. Truex is entering the danger zone, and Talladega – where he’s never won in 37 starts – hasn’t been kind to him in the past.

9. Bubba Wallace

Last week: first four out

It wasn’t the win that Wallace desperately wanted to advance in the playoffs, but it was undoubtedly his best Cup performance. He set career-bests for laps led in a race (111), average running position (4.2) and driver rating (128.8) after scoring his second career pole and finishing third. Wallace, who won at Talladega two years ago, is eyeing a similar run this weekend.

10. Ross Chastain

Last week: first four out

Chastain came out of nowhere in the closing laps to finish second – a much-needed result for a struggling team. It’s just his second top-five and third top-10 in the last 13 races. Perhaps the team that made the Championship 4 last year is finally waking up.

First four out: Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano

Contact Us