NASCAR Power Rankings: Who’s hot and who’s not entering the 2022 playoffs

1 Chase Elliott — The DNF Chase Elliott was left with after getting caught in The Big One marked only the second time he’s failed to finish a race all season. It’s been an exceptional campaign for Elliott, who is now the top seed in the playoffs. 2 Joey Logano Joey Logano enters the playoffs as the second seed, and he shouldn’t be counted out as a driver to make a late-season run. Logano led five times at Daytona for a total of 14 laps. 3 Denny Hamlin Once again, Denny Hamlin was right in the thick of it in a superspeedway race. Hamlin led 13 laps and was in the lead when the downpour occurred entering Turn 1. 4 Kevin Harvick It would have been better for Kevin Harvick had it kept raining, as he would have finished second had the race been shortened. But with terminal damage, Harvick was left with a DNF once the race resumed. 5 Kyle Larson If Kyle Larson is going to go for his second Cup championship in a row, he’s going to have to make sure he’s running at the finish each week. An engine failure at Daytona gave Larson his sixth DNF of the year. 6 Christopher Bell Christopher Bell’s going to have to hope his Daytona misfortune doesn’t mean a pattern’s developing: Entering the playoffs, Bell has two DNFs in the last four races. 7 Daniel Suarez As of late, Daniel Suarez and his team have been the best out of the Trackhouse shop. Suarez took the lead with under 30 laps to go and was right in the thick of it when the skies opened up over the lead pack. 8 Tyler Reddick Who says Tyler Reddick isn’t a company man? Reddick ensured that Austin Dillon won to make the playoffs, playing defense from second and blocking a charge from Cody Ware on the final lap. 9 Ryan Blaney — Anything that happens in the playoffs to Ryan Blaney is going to be peaches and cream compared to the month of August. Almost every nightmare scenario that could have knocked him out presented itself to Blaney right down to the last lap at Daytona. 10 Ross Chastain Even if his latest woes came on a superspeedway, I’d reach for the panic button if I was Ross Chastain. He’s fallen off over the past month, and a crash at Daytona left him with yet another poor finish in 33rd. 11 Austin Cindric Austin Cindric was just three laps away from joining a very select group of drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in the same season. The last driver to pull off that feat remains Jimmie Johnson in 2013. 12 Martin Truex Jr. Curiously, this is the second time in the last five years that a driver has gone from finishing second in the standings to missing the playoffs entirely. That happened to Joey Logano in 2017 after he received no points for a win at Richmond and then never won again. 13 Kyle Busch — There’s a caveat to the fact that Kyle Busch now has two top 10s in the last three races: Only 10 cars finished on the lead lap at Daytona, and Busch was the last of them. 14 Austin Dillon Austin Dillon has become one of NASCAR’s big game hunters. His four career wins have come in the Coca-Cola 600, the Daytona 500, another Daytona race and a 500-mile race at Texas. 15 Erik Jones After leading 22 laps at Daytona, Erik Jones has now led 99 laps this season. That ties the second-most he’s had in a season, and it’s more laps than he led in 2020 and 2021 combined. 16 Bubba Wallace — With his playoff hopes now over, more solid finishes and continued growth should be Bubba Wallace’s prerogative for the rest of the season. An 11th place finish at Daytona will help toward that end. 17 Alex Bowman After leading 16 laps on his way to winning Las Vegas, Alex Bowman had led just two laps the rest of the regular season until Sunday. Bowman paced the field for 11 laps, his second-highest total in a race this year. 18 Chris Buescher If it’s any solace for Chris Buescher, he might be able to carry his recent momentum into the playoffs and play spoiler in some races. The Charlotte Roval, where he finished third last year, marks a prime opportunity. 19 Justin Haley Justin Haley’s Xfinity superspeedway prowess has carried over to Cup, and he just about pulled off another one. Haley’s team made a strategy call to get him the lead, and he about kept it for a good while. 20 Michael McDowell Michael McDowell’s Daytona wreck led to just his second DNF of the season, and his first due to a crash. Only an electrical failure at Fontana had kept McDowell from reaching the finish prior to Sunday. 21 William Byron William Byron’s campaign has not been the same since he got shoved out of the way for a win at Darlington. Next week, he’ll hope to end his slump at the place where it began. 22 Cole Custer Good for Cole Custer that he didn’t end up altering the finish at Daytona. Custer cut a right front tire with a few laps to go, but the race stayed green and Custer managed to finish 16th. 23 Brad Keselowski An early crash prevented Brad Keselowski from qualifying for the NASCAR playoffs. It’s the first time he’s missed the playoffs since 2013, when he struggled all year in a brutal post-championship hangover. 24 Chase Briscoe Chase Briscoe surely hopes that he’ll take flight again in the playoffs — Just not the way he did at Daytona, where Briscoe’s car began to go airborne before settling down on all four wheels. 25 Aric Almirola Aric Almirola was a factor late in the race, but the massive Turn 1 pileup led to him missing the playoffs for the first time since joining Stewart-Haas. With Almirola re-signing for multiple years, there’ll now be other chances for him. 26 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. If only Daytona had been kinder to Ricky Stenhouse this year. After getting wrecked out of a chance to win the Daytona 500, Stenhouse was a contender in the 400 before climbing up on top of another car. 27 Ty Dillon If Ty Dillon had just a few more inches of clearance, he might have been the Dillon brother in Victory Lane. Dillon would have been the first car through the crash with 23 to go, but he got tagged and spun at the last second. 28 Corey LaJoie Corey LaJoie continues to be a force in speedway races. He found the front of the field twice for a total of six laps, allowing him to double his career-high total of laps led this season. 29 Cody Ware Cody Ware’s first ever top 10 finish was a career milestone for him, and also significant for the rest of the field. Ware’s sixth-place run means that all full-time drivers in Cup this year have at least one top 10. 30 B.J. McLeod Last year, BJ McLeod earned his first ever top 10 when he drove past the last lap carnage back to the checkered flag. This year, McLeod was in the mix in the lead pack all the way to the end, finishing seventh in a three-wide photo finish for that spot.

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