Ryan Blaney had dropped out of these rankings after a 16th-place finish at Kansas, ninth at Darlington and then a sixth-place finish in the all-star race.
That probably was a little bit unfair. But he had led laps in only two of the last eight races and had scored stage points in only six of the 16 stages in those events.
That all changed Monday when he led 163 laps and earned points in all three stages while capturing the 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
So Blaney vaults back into these power rankings for this week:
1. William Byron (Last week: 3)
There also is a new No. 1 in the rankings. Byron finished second to Blaney and had a solid day. Plus he’s doing what teammate Kyle Larson isn’t — Byron is finishing races.
2. Kyle Larson (LW: 1)
Larson had his fifth race where he wasn’t running at the finish as he was involved in a wreck in the 600. Granted, the wrecks often aren’t his fault, but it’s hard to have a driver who is 11th in the standings be atop the rankings.
3. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 5)
After a third-place finish at Charlotte, Truex is now the top Joe Gibbs Racing driver in points as he sits fifth. And there’s a reason for that — he’s consistent, even when he has to rally from a penalty as he did in Charlotte.
4. Ross Chastain (LW: 2)
Chastain still leads the Cup standings — by one point over Blaney. But he was a non-factor in the 600, and that was a little disappointing for a driver who has had a stellar season.
5. Christopher Bell (LW: 4)
Bell also had a frustrating 600 as he was involved in an incident and finished 24th. It was his third consecutive finish outside the top 10.
6. Ryan Blaney (LW: NR)
Just how much will the Charlotte win vault Blaney into a being a contender each week? That’s still to be determined. The Fords have not been the strongest manufacturer this season.
7. Denny Hamlin (LW: 6)
8. Tyler Reddick (LW: 10)
Reddick’s fifth-place finish was his third top-10 in the last four races. He seems to be getting faster — and more comfortable — at 23XI Racing.
9. Kyle Busch (LW: 8)
Busch was involved in a couple of incidents at Charlotte and still finished sixth. Typical Busch day of making the most out of a bad situation.
10. Bubba Wallace (LW: NR)
Wallace has finishes of fourth, fifth and fourth in the past three races. He had just one top-5 (and two top-10s) in the first 11 races this year.
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
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