NASCAR Strength Ranking: Ryan Blaney takes lead from Ross Chastain after Martinsville

1 Ryan Blaney Over the past two weeks, Ryan Blaney has driven a total of 133 laps to none for Ross Chastain and is now second in points. A fourth place finish in Richmond put him on top. 2 Ross Chastain Although not as impressive a performance as some in March, Ross led Chastain from 27th all the way to fifth at the finish in Martinsville. Chastain cooled a little, but not much. 3 William Byron William Byron is now betting that he is the hottest driver in NASCAR. He is now the only winner in 2022 and has finished third or better three times in the last four races, driving 445 laps in that period to give him the lead in the racing series. 4 Chase Elliot The pass was so difficult in Martinsville that Chase Elliott never lost the lead on the pit road, and probably never did. Elliott drove the opening 185 circuit, the most to start a Cup Series race since Matt Kenseth in Richmond in 2017. 5 Chase Briscoe Chase Briscoe’s ninth-place finish in Richmond marked the first time he had finished in the top ten since his victory over Phoenix. He has now managed a total of 10 firsts in his rookie year (3) in just eight races so far. 6 Martin Truex Jr. Despite having 15 stage points, Martin Truex’s recent streak of top-10 finishes was cut short when a right front tire fell off after being stopped with a green flag. That spoiled his chances of a good finish, as he came home twice on 22. 7 Alex Bowman Since his Las Vegas win, Alex Bowman has been Hendrik’s most consistent car. Bowman hasn’t finished outside the top 15 in the past six races, a streak that has continued with 12th in Martinsville. 8 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick was among the drivers who came to the groove way before overtime looking to try and earn points on the new tyres. It didn’t work out as intended, leaving Harvick to settle for 14th. 9 Austin Dillon Under his teammate Tyler Riddick, Austin Dillon has had a pretty impressive 2022 so far. With his third place finish in Martinsville, Dillon now has twice as many top-five and a half as the top ten as he did in all of 2021. 10 Tyler Riddick – An 18th place finish wasn’t indicative of Tyler Riddick’s night in Martinsville, as he ran in the top 10 and looked destined for at least 15th before fading out in the closing laps. 11 Christopher Bell The upward trajectory of Christopher Bell’s season continued on Saturday night, as he ran in the top five early and looked destined for another good finish until a pit road penalty thwarted his efforts. Bill managed to save the 20th place. 12 Joey Logano If he can get to William Byron on the last lap, Joey Lugano will probably use his chrome horn to try for his first win in 2022. In the end, something is going to break and Lugano will end a now losing streak dating back to Bristol last year. 13 Kyle Bush Of all the cars that hit the road before overtime, Kyle Busch was able to refine his strategy better than anyone. Bosch used his new tires to finish seventh. 14 Kurt Bosch Kurt Busch led the way in a 23XI Racing rebound after both cars had a rough ride in Richmond. Bush ran in the top ten all night, and finished in sixth. 15th Eric the mariola Eric Almerola is finally back on track after the slump that followed Atlanta, starting from the outside pole and showing he had a fast car all night before finishing eighth – his first top 10 since he scored three goals in a row to start the season. 16 Daniel Suarez Daniel Suarez showed he was willing and able to be aggressive, and he bullied Chase Elliott a few times, but it was a rough night for him. Suarez struggled with his car all night and finished four laps in 29th. 17 Kyle Larson Kyle Larson’s chances in the top 10 ended with a quick penalty kick during the green flag pit stop, which left him swinging for 19th at the end of the race. That’s better than where Larson would have finished, but still not what anyone expected of the title holder. 18 Brad Keselowski – Brad Keselowski and RFK Racing brought a quick cut to Martinsville, as evidenced by placing both of their cars in the top 10 in qualifying. Kiselovsky eventually returned to the top 20, finishing in 17th place. 19 Eric Jones Eric Jones had the best recovery tonight in Martinsville, coming back on the first lap after struggling early and ending up in 13th – his fourth best 15 of the season. 20 Chris Bucher With a fourth-place playoff effort, Chris Bucher earned his best spot of the 2022 season. He ended up 15th, matching his bottom line score from Richmond. 21 Austin Cendrick Austin Sendrick barely missed the top 10 in Martinsville, but his 11th finish is his best result on the oval since winning the Daytona 500 back in February. Another good day to write about for the pioneering rookie upstart at the Cup. 22 Denny Hamlin It’s good for Denny Hamlin that he won in Richmond, because Martinsville had more of the same 2022 season. Hamlin had a miserable race from start to finish and ended up three laps in 28th place. 23 Bubba Wallace Bubba Wallace had a fast car in practice, and he just missed out on 15th after having to withstand an onslaught of cars on new tires in overtime. Perhaps it would have been better if it had not been for another mistake by the pit crew, which earned him a penalty by going through the wall too soon. 24 Cole Custer After another quick qualifying round, Cole Custer ran in the top five during the first half of Saturday night’s race before a pit road penalty sent him back into traffic. If Custer can avoid trouble when he has a fast car, we’ll see more of the look that earned him Rookie of the Year in 2020. 25 Ty Dillon Ty Dillon’s Consistency streak has slipped from consistent finishes inside the Top 20 to consistent finishes just outside. Dillon finished 23rd in Martinsville a week after placing 24th in Richmond. 26 Justin Haley – After a streak of Top 20 Finals, Justin Haley recorded his worst finish of the 2022 season two weeks in a row. After finishing 29th in Richmond, Haley missed the mark in Martinsville and finished 31st. 27 Todd Gilliland Todd Gilliland had a bump this week due to his fast run in the playoffs, looking like a threat to the pole before settling down to 10th. That speed didn’t translate to racing, but perhaps a lot of fans were happy that Gilliland’s crash with less than 10 to go created some intrigue in a quiet race. 28 Harrison Burton 26th place wasn’t what Harrison Burton had hoped for back home in southern Virginia. Martinsville is an important track for both the Burton family and Wood Brothers, and Harrison himself won there at Xfinity in 2020. 29 Michael McDowell Michael McDowell’s finish in 25th doesn’t seem like much on the surface, which is really nothing at all upon further examination. However, it is McDowell’s fourth best achievement in 2022. 30 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. With Cory Lagoy finishing outside the top 30 once again, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is back in the power ratings this week despite finishing 27th in Martinsville. He could be jumping on the board by this time next week, as Stenhouse is a dirt rider by trade and was second in Bristol last year.

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