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NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin returns to first place Short-track ace Sam Ard shares Xfinity record with Noah Gragson Drivers to watch in Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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Four races in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and drivers eligible to win the championship remain 0-for-4 in pursuit of race wins.

Tyler Reddick was the No. 4 winner on this list Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

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And now we’re heading to Talladega Superspeedway, where the outfield racers have the potential to emerge victorious given the impact of the draft and, more importantly, crashes.

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Sunday’s tire-blast, wall-hit, and car-fight craziness at Texas Motor Speedway has once again shuffled the playoff standings, and the same is true for the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, which has a new leader. Denny Hamlin.

MORE: Winners and Losers in Texas

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Hamlin could be busy until the end of the season. His potential retaliation list expanded on Sunday with the addition of William Byron after serious controversy.

This is what the ranking looks like in the middle of round 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Ranking

1. Denny Hamlin (#3 last week) “Against all odds—tyres, wreckage, hassle, weather, and the William Byron hype—Hamlin finished 10th on Sunday and is sixth in the playoff standings to enter Talladega. He has the best average of 5.75 in playoff races. If his “roster” doesn’t hurt, Hamlin might be ready to seriously challenge for his first world title.

2. Kyle Larson (#4 last week) “Larson led Texas for 19 laps and probably should have led more in one of the best cars in the race. He is now fourth in points and he believes he will play an important role in the last two weeks of the round.

3. Chase Elliott (#2 last week) – Elliott wasn’t happy after crashing a wall with a tire problem and stopping a burning car. He finished 32nd.

four. Joey Logano (#6 last week) — Logano was chasing the winner Tyler Reddick on the last laps in Texas. He climbs to first place in the playoff standings and moves up two spots in the NBC rankings.

5. William Byron (5th last week) Byron could be #1 on Denny Hamlin’s list here he slides at number 5.

6. Christopher Bell (#1 last week) – Bell had a lousy Sunday in Texas, crashing not once but twice due to tire problems and finishing 34th, causing his rankings to plummet.

7. Ross Chastain (#7 last week) Chastain’s team used tires and warnings correctly and probably deserved more than 13th on Sunday.

eight. Ryan Blaney (#8 last week) – Mr Winless (other than the All-Star costume) is moving on. A run in fourth place (and 29 laps of the lead) on Sunday keeps it relevant.

9. Chase Briscoe (#9 last week) – The Briscoe race in Texas started poorly but ended well with a fifth place finish.

10. Tyler Reddick (Unranked last week) Reddick Sunday is the only non-Chase Elliott driver to have more than two race wins this year. Now with three wins, he took his first oval victory in Texas.

Dropped: Alex Bowman (#10 last week).

The name of former two-time Xfinity Series champion Sam Ard returned to the fore last week. Noah Gragson set the Arda Series record for most consecutive wins with four.

Although Ard has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his exploits are generally little known to many who follow modern stock car racing. He was on Hall’s voting list for the class of 2023 but was not elected.

In the 1970s and 80s, Ard was a short track master in the vein of stars like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant, and Butch Lindley, riders who could turn up at almost any half-mile track across the country and take home a trophy.

He won the NASCAR Late Model (now Xfinity Series) championship in 1983 and 1984 with 18 wins in those two seasons. At the end of the 1983 season, he had four wins in a row, winning in South Boston, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; Rougemont, North Carolina and Charlotte.

Ard was so dominant in 1984 that he completed the season championship with two races remaining. That year, in 28 series starts, he had 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 finishes. He has won eight times.

In the penultimate race of the 1984 season at the North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, Ard suffered serious head injuries when his car slipped out of another car’s fluid and hit the outside wall of the track.

This accident effectively ended Ard’s career and influenced his entire later life. Ard often talked about learning to walk again as part of his recovery. He said he would use the walker in the sawdust pile in the backyard to make the landing softer when he falls.

Ard was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In 2006, in response to Arda’s financial problems, drivers Kyle Bush, Kevin Harvick as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.among other things, started a fundraising campaign for his family.

Ard, a native of Scranton, South Carolina, died in April 2017. He was 78 years old.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will reach a breaking point on Sunday in the 500 mile race at the treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

The biggest factor in any race at Talladega, NASCAR’s biggest circuit, is the unknown. With cars going so fast and so close together, multi-car accidents are not only possible, but expected, and it’s easy to become the innocent victim of someone else’s mistake.

MORE: NASCAR punishes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

The tension doubled for the 12 playoff riders. A poor finish at Talladega could open the door to a likely playoff exit at the end of the round on Oct. 9 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

To date, non-playoff riders have won four in the playoffs, an unprecedented record. Tyler Reddick was the latest to join the list, winning last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Take a look at the riders to look out for in Talladega:


Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 10th in Texas, 9th in Bristol, 2nd in Kansas.
  • Past in Talladega: 2 career wins

Although he did not win, Hamlin finished in the top ten in all four playoff races. In the last six races at Talladega, he has finished seventh or higher four times. Now, if he can just keep people from running into him…

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 7th in Texas, 3rd in Bristol, 6th in Kansas.
  • Past in Talladega: Career Best Second Place

Byron is the only playoff driver to have avoided major crashes and pit stop trouble, finishing in the top ten in all four playoff races. After a penalty on Tuesday for his incident with Denny Hamlin in Texas, he sits below the cut line entering Sunday’s race.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 24th
  • Last three races: 8th in Texas, 13th in Bristol, 25th in Kansas.
  • Past in Talladega: 6 wins, active leader

Even in difficult times, Keselowski is a threat at Talladega, where he last won in April 2021 (his last Cup win). He spent 268 laps there in the last 13 races.


Kyle Bush

  • Points position: 15th
  • Last three races: 36th in Texas, 34th in Bristol, 26th in Kansas.
  • Talladega Past: 1 career win, 2008

Is Busch going to steadily fade into the fog as he gets through the final weeks of his senior year at Joe Gibbs Racing? His best result in the last four races is 26th. On a positive note this week, he is the only driver to finish in the top ten in three of this year’s races at Daytona and Talladega.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 32nd in Texas, 2nd in Bristol, 11th in Kansas.
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win in 2019

Can Elliot bounce back from a fiery finish and 32nd in Texas? Playoff points give him some consolation, but a second career win at Talladega would have been much appreciated in Hendrick’s camp.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Dots…


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