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Week 12 - StatChat Power Rankings

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

By Adam Carabine

By this point of the season, we now have enough data to get a more accurate sense of how the drivers are doing statistically this year. Enter the StatChat Power Rankings! We've ranked all 34 full-time drivers in the Cup Series (there are 36 charters, but the Rick Ware 15 and Kaulig 16 have rotating drivers, so they're excluded).

Rankings are determined using a large number of statistical inputs.

Zane Smith – This week: 34th – Last week: (--)

He has the worst average finish in the Cup Series, 0 Top 10s, and 2 DNFs through 11 races – it’s been an abysmal rookie campaign for Zane Smith in the 71. 


Harrison Burton – This week: 33rd – Last week: (--)

Burton has shown flashes of promise, including a Top 10 at both Phoenix and Talladega, but if he doesn’t start performing more consistently he may be out of a job at Wood Bros.


Michael McDowell – This week: 32nd – Last week: (--)

McDowell stands alone with 4 DNFs in this young season, the most of any Cup Series driver. He’s had cars capable of competing for wins, including poles at both Atlanta and Talladega this year, but it hasn’t translated to results.  Don’t sleep on him just yet.


Austin Dillon – This week: 31st – Last week: (--)

It’s been a rough season for the #3 camp.  Already Dillon has had a crew chief fired and replaced.  He’s currently having his worst career season by average finish, and his one Top 10 on the year came at Texas last week. 


Justin Haley – This week: 30th – Last week: (--)

A step backward was maybe to be expected for Haley when he moved from Kaulig to Rick Ware Racing this year.  There was hope that he’d elevate the program at the #51, but so far he’s only finished on the lead lap 4 times.  Growing pains.


Corey LaJoie – This week: 29th – Last week: (--)

He can be a threat at drafting tracks (see P4 at Daytona this year), but with 4 other finishes outside of the Top 30 this year alone, it might be time to focus on the other disciplines on the NASCAR schedule.


Austin Cindric – This week: 28th – Last week: (--)

Talladega wasn’t a terrible race for Cindric.  He qualified on the front row, scored the most stage points on the day, but ultimately finished 23rd.  He followed it up with a quiet P15 at Dover, so things could be turning around, but that career-worst average finish needs to be addressed. Soon.


Carson Hocevar – This week: 27th – Last week: (--)

Hocevar may currently be winning the battle for Rookie of the Year, but the results aren’t consistent.  Finishing 40th at your first ever Daytona 500?  Not ideal.  However, he has also had two separate stretches of 3 Top 20s in a row.  For the equipment he’s in, that might be a win.


Todd Gilliland – This week: 26th – Last week: (--)

After a few really impressive weeks, Gilliland has come back down to earth a bit.  The results haven’t always been there as far as finishes, but he’s already led 91 laps this season, and he’s showing he deserves a shot in the #38.


Josh Berry – This week: 25th – Last week: (--)


Perhaps seen as the no-brainer pick to win Rookie of the Year this year, Berry has struggled adapting to a full-time Cup schedule. Both Ford and SHR’s struggles might be having an impact here too.  Berry is still looking for his first Top 10 of 2024.


Erik Jones – This week: 24th – Last week (--)


Injury notwithstanding, Erik Jones has had both moments of greatness, and moments to forget this season.  It’s the first year that Legacy Motor Club is within the Toyota camp, so there’s bound to be a feeling out process.  The bad news is that he hasn’t led a single lap yet this year.  The good news? Jones will return from injury at Darlington – his best track.


Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – This week: 23rd – Last week (--)


It’s been a weird up and down year for Stenhouse in the 47.  He’s got a P6 at Atlanta, and a P4 at Talladega, but he’s also got four finishes outside of the Top 30.  He’s on a small, underfunded team, so you do have to manage expectations here.  JTG-Daugherty just re-upped him for a few more years, though. 


John Hunter Nemechek – This week: 22nd – Last week (--)


It’s weird to think that this isn’t John Hunter’s rookie season.  He has (deservedly so) made his way back to the Cup Series after a demotion following his 2020 rookie campaign.  Again, he’s on a Legacy Motor Club team that’s hoping they’re on the upswing, so results haven’t come yet, but he’s showing that a little extra time cooking down in the lower series might have been a good idea.


Daniel Hemric – This week: 21st – Last week (--)


A few weeks ago, Hemric would have probably been a little lower in the Power Rankings, but he’s put together a solid few weeks.  Back to back P9 finishes at Talladega and Dover (two very different tracks, mind you), plus he has 0 DNFs this year.  Kaulig has taken a bit of a step back this year in the Cup Series, but he’s pretty much matching what Haley did in that seat a year ago.


Ryan Preece– This week: 20th – Last week (--)


Ryan Preece had some bad luck last week at Dover, where human error within the shop had his #41 catching fire (not in a good way) and finishing last.  Despite that, he’s still having the best Cup Series season of his career (by average finish), and he’s finding some footing at SHR.


Noah Gragson – This week: 19th – Last week (--)


Noah Gragson started out a little inconsistent in his return to the Cup Series after a suspension cancelled out the back half of his rookie season last year.  However lately he has been putting together some solid runs, and has a P3 and P6 in his last two starts.  If he can keep that up consistently, he’ll move up the Power Rankings quickly.


Bubba Wallace – This week: 18th – Last week (--)


If you took away the last two races, Bubba might have been higher in these Rankings, but he’s had a rough couple of weeks.  Two DNFs in a row, and finishes outside of the Top 30.  He’s shown some promise, and he’s two points out of a playoff spot currently, but he’s at the point in his career where he needs to start consistently challenging for wins.


Chris Buescher – This week: 17th – Last week (--)


The big question on everyone’s mind (including probably Chris Buescher’s) is whether last year’s success was a flash in the pan.  Buescher has looked decent at times this year, including a runner-up finish at Phoenix.  But because of last year’s success it feels like a down year.  He’s still winless on the season, and it’s going to be tough to match last year’s three trips to victory lane.


Christopher Bell – This week: 16th – Last week (--)


Christopher Bell can’t seem to string any momentum together this season.  He’s the lowest ranked winner on our list.  His win at Phoenix was important, especially since the Championship Race returns there in the fall.  But he and his team are going to need to weed out a bunch of mistakes to even make it there. 


Daniel Suarez – This week: 15th – Last week (--)


Suarez earned the second win of his career by just a hair back in Atlanta, kicking off a great start to the 2024 campaign.  Since then he has been a little less consistent, but his pressure to make it to the playoffs has already been erased.  Did they take their foot off the gas to prep for the playoffs?


Chase Briscoe – This week: 14th – Last week (--)


It’s hard to believe that this is Briscoe’s 4th year as a Cup Series regular.  SHR was expecting to take a step back after the retirement of two veterans in Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola, but now suddenly Briscoe is their veteran presence on the team.  He’s been the best performer for them, and is having a career year, but he could use a win.


Alex Bowman – This week: 13th – Last week (--)


It’s got to be tough to be Alex Bowman.  He’s on a premiere team, and actually getting decent results, but his teammates are all far outpacing him, making him look bad.  Bowman has 0 of HMS’ 5 wins this year, yet quietly he’s putting together his best ever year by average finish.  He’s got more Top 10s than teammates Larson and Elliott – in fact, only two drivers (Byron and Reddick) have more than he does. 


Joey Logano – This week: 12th – Last week (--)


It’s been an up and down year for Logano so far.  He started the season off with two poles in the first three races (though the first one might’ve had help from an illegal webbed glove), but it’s been feast or famine since then.  He’s a two-time champion who is tied in average finish for 16th with Noah Gragson.  I’d still bank on him to make the playoffs though.


Kyle Busch – This week: 11th – Last week (--)


The talk around Kyle Busch this year has been oddly quiet.  He’s actually putting together a decent enough year, statistically.  Sure, he doesn’t have a win yet, but he’s got 4 Top 10s and 2 Top 5s.  He was plagued with some mechanical issues early on this season, but hopefully a P4 at Dover last week is something to build on.


Brad Keselowski – This week: 10th – Last week (--)


Rounding out the Top 10, Keselowski has been on the precipice so many times this year.  His year got off to a rocky start with two P33s in a row.  And while his average finish is actually worse than Kyle Busch’s, he’s got twice as many Top 5s through just 11 races.  Keselowski is going to break his winless streak this year.  And soon.


Ross Chastain – This week: 9th – Last week (--)


Another weirdly quiet driver this year is Ross Chastain.  He’s in the Top 10 in points, he’s having a career-best season by average finish, and he’s also managed to stay out of the spotlight.  That might be a good thing, because a lot of Chastain’s press comes from on-track incidents.  He’s still winless this year but he should be a lock for the playoffs.


Ty Gibbs – This week: 8th – Last week (--)


Ty Gibbs certainly has the advantage of great equipment over other young drivers, but he’s also making the most of it.  His average finish this year is 3rd best in the Cup Series.  He’s run literally every single lap except for TWO this season.  Gibbs will get his first Cup Series win this season, you can take that to the bank.


Ryan Blaney – This week: 7th – Last week (--)


The defending champ is still winless this year, but he’s still piling up the points.  In 6 separate races this season, Blaney has scored 32 or more points.  Sure, he’ll want to start winning again soon if he wants to win another championship this year, but I wouldn’t worry just yet.  His average finish this year is better than last year’s championship winning season.


Tyler Reddick – This week: 6th – Last week (--)


Reddick’s win at Talladega might have been a result of being in the right place at the right time – that was McDowell’s race to lose – but he has run pretty well all season long.  He’s led 124 laps (7th in the Cup Series), and he has 7 Top 10s (with nearly an 8th when he finished P11 this past weekend at Dover).  Reddick’s looking to the playoffs already.


Chase Elliott – This week: 5th – Last week (--)


He got the monkey off his back, now what’s he going to do with it? What’s more impressive than Chase’s win this season is just how consistent he’s been.  His worst finish is still within the Top 20 (P19 at Phoenix), and when you’re able to keep that consistency up, good things happen.  This is his best season by average finish.


William Byron – This week: 4th – Last week (--)


It’s hard to believe that someone with 3 wins already is not in the number one spot, but there have been a few blemishes to Byron’s season as well.  It might be a case of him setting the bar too high last season when he scored 6 wins, but is it weird to feel like he might be underperforming?  He’s got two finishes outside of the Top 30 too, so he’s not been without his faults, but look for him to make another deep run in the playoffs this year.


Denny Hamlin – This week: 3rd – Last week (--)


The only other 3-time winner this season, the villainous Denny Hamlin has been finding ways to stack up points as well.  He’s 3rd in overall stage points earned this season, but his average finish could still use a little work, as it was better last season.  The question will always be whether Denny ever wins a championship.  There’s no way to predict it, but there’s no doubt he’s in the conversation again this year.


Martin Truex Jr. – This week: 2nd – Last week (--)


Martin Truex Jr. has been snake-bitten this year when it comes to wins.  He’s had great runs, but has yet to see the checkered flag.  What might be scary for other drivers is that Martin is on track to score 179 more points than he did last year, a year where he won the regular season points race.  Whether he wins or not, he’ll make the playoffs this year, in what could be his last push for a second championship.


Kyle Larson – This week: 1st – Last week (--)


Larson has only won once this year, so you might find it odd that he’s at the top of the Power Rankings.  But Larson has dominated many other stat categories too, it was too hard not to put him there.  He’s led the most laps of anyone (570), he’s the only driver above 400 points in the standings (410), and perhaps most impressively, he has an insane amount of stage points (126).  126 stage points is essentially like winning 3 extra races.  He’s won 6 stages already.  Look for Larson to continue his reputation as a perennial championship favourite.


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