NASCAR Power Rankings: New No. 1 emerges after surprise Charlotte winner

There's a new No. 1 in our NASCAR power rankings following an upset victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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A.J. Allmendinger stole the show on Sunday in Charlotte.

The 41-year-old veteran won the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, leading the final 33 laps to score his third career victory (all on road courses). Allmendinger, who didn’t make the playoffs, has an unclear future – but that didn’t stop him from celebrating with his Kaulig Racing team and fans at the track.

Behind Allmendinger, the playoff battle was close all afternoon as four drivers were eliminated from title contention: former champions Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, 2022 championship finalist Ross Chastain and 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace.

There are now just four races remaining in the 2023 season – three in the Round of 8 followed by the Championship 4 battle. Here’s our latest NASCAR power rankings heading into the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Oct. 15, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC,

1. William Byron

Last week: 2

Byron is on a heater right now. He finished first, second and second in the three Round of 12 races, and he enters the Round of 8 as the No. 1 seed. And, in case you forgot, Byron won at Las Vegas in March and led 176 of 271 laps. A victory on Sunday would send him to the Championship 4 for the first time in his young career.

2. Denny Hamlin

Last week: 1

Finishing last in an elimination race usually isn’t a good way to advance – but that’s what Hamlin did. The 42-year-old driver wrecked out on lap 76 after scoring eight stage points, which was the exact amount he needed to move on. Now, Hamlin will visit three of his best tracks in the Round of 8 as he seeks that elusive first championship.

3. Kyle Larson

Last week: 3

After wrecking in practice on Saturday, Larson started last and faced a challenge to advance. The No. 5 team avoided several accidents and came home in 13th, which was enough to make the Round of 8. Larson has past victories at each of the four remaining tracks, making him one of the favorites to win his second title.

4. Chris Buescher

Last week: 4

Buescher just keeps rolling through these playoffs. The RFK Racing driver finished seventh at Charlotte, easily advancing to the Round of 8 in what’s been a drama-free playoff run. His consistency has been especially impressive considering this is just Buescher’s second career playoff appearance (first since his rookie year in 2016).

5. Tyler Reddick

Last week: 7

Reddick entered Charlotte two points below the cut line and exited 16 points above it. The 23XI Racing driver, sporting another Jordan Brand paint scheme, won Stage 1 and finished sixth after leading 27 laps. It’s always good to run well when the boss is at the track.

6. Christopher Bell

Last week: 5

The defending Charlotte winner didn’t quite have the same speed this year. Bell finished 15th – enough to advance to the Round of 8 for the second straight year. Things will get tougher moving forward though if he can’t win, which he hasn’t done since the Bristol Dirt Race in April.

7. Ryan Blaney

Last week: 8

Blaney’s Talladega win last week locked up his Round of 8 spot. That made Charlotte a stress-free race, and Blaney delivered a solid 12th-place run. Now comes the hard part, though. Blaney has made the Round of 8 five times in the last seven years, but he’s yet to make the Championship 4.

8. Brad Keselowski

Last week: 6

An eventful ROVAL race saw Keselowski throwing Hail Mary’s left and right. Whether it was pitting off sequence, gambling on cautions or aggressive restarts, the No. 6 team went for it on Sunday. They came up short, though, finishing 18th and getting eliminated after a strong season. Keselowski’s wreck at Talladega was ultimately too much to overcome, but this season is a solid building block for RFK Racing with Buescher still in the hunt.

9. Chase Elliott

Last week: first four out

Elliott was in line to compete for the win if not for an untimely caution at the end of Stage 2. Still, he recovered from that and an unscheduled green flag pit stop to finish ninth. While Elliott has rarely had race-winning speed in what can only be described as a disappointing season, he has been extremely consistent. In 25 starts, he has 21 top-15 finishes – including a current streak of seven straight races. The No. 9 team is still fighting for the owners’ championship, too.

10. Martin Truex Jr.

Last week: 9

If you don’t think the regular season matters, just look at Truex. He won the regular season title but has yet to finish in the top-15 through six playoff races. But with the playoff points he earned during the first 26 weeks, he’s survived through to the Round of 8. MTJ has to step his game up for this round if he wants to go any further, though, as his points buffer has shrunk to 15 entering Las Vegas.

First four out: Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain

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