Week 3 power rankings: Dominant win puts Larson in driver’s seat

Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 gave NASCAR followers the season’s first glimpse at who the highest canine are on the non-drafting tracks.

It should not shock anybody that Kyle Larson is the primary to throw his identify into that hat.

Larson led 181 laps en path to a dominant win, and he vaults to the highest of the facility rankings, too. In the meantime, let’s check out how they shake up behind him earlier than the collection heads to Avondale, Ariz., for Sunday’s Shriners Youngsters’s 500. 

1. Kyle Larson (Last week: 5)

Larson is essentially the most dominant driver in NASCAR when he’s on his sport, and he actually was in Vegas on Sunday. He was the quickest driver all race and by no means sputtered as he held off the hard-charging Tyler Reddick within the closing laps. Larson has taken over the factors lead and established himself because the season’s early man to beat. Do not be shocked if he stays put on this place for some time.

2. Ryan Blaney (Final week: 1)

Blaney’s third-place end makes it back-to-back podiums for the reigning champion, who’s selecting up the place he left off in 2023. Now he’ll head to the monitor the place he received that championship, and the place he must be among the many favorites for the win.

3. Ross Chastain (Final week: 3)

It wasn’t a reasonably race for Chastain, who began on the rear and was penalized for rushing throughout a green-flag pit cease, however a late technique name for 2 tires earned him a fourth-place end. Like Blaney, he now heads to a monitor the place he is had current success because the winner of the title race in 2023, and he must be a risk for back-to-back wins in Arizona.

4. William Byron (Final week: 4)

Byron led 15 laps early and seemed like Larson’s greatest challenger, however he bumped into bother when a trash bag flew into his grille and brought about his automotive to overheat, forcing him to make an unscheduled pit cease. He rebounded to complete tenth, however it in all probability wasn’t the day he was on the lookout for. Now he’ll look to defend his win within the spring race in Arizona a 12 months in the past.

5. Kyle Busch (Final week: 2)

Busch ran within the high 5 for a lot of the race at his residence monitor, however a number of issues on pit road by driver and crew dropped him to twenty sixth. Nonetheless, the pace Busch confirmed is promising on condition that he typically lacked it towards the top of final season. “Rowdy” continues to be a pressure to be reckoned with.

6. Denny Hamlin (Final week: 7)

Hamlin briefly led for 16 laps in Sunday’s race, however he by no means appeared to have successful pace and steadily light to eighth on the end. The uneventful race was in all probability a breath of recent air for him after two accident-filled days to begin the season, however he has but to noticeably contend for a win in a points-paying race in 2024.

7. Tyler Reddick (Final week: not ranked)

After dropping out of final week’s rankings, Reddick reminded followers why he was being touted so extremely earlier than the season. He clearly had the second-best automotive behind solely Larson and appeared even sooner than him at occasions, significantly on the lengthy runs. Regardless of working out of time Sunday, he’ll have loads extra possibilities to say himself on the entrance this season.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (Final week: 13)

Truex has been quiet however constant to begin 2024 as he sits third in factors behind solely Larson and Blaney. It is laborious to say what to make of his prospects. Does he nonetheless have the power to dominate a race or is he in for a regression as soon as the unhealthy luck monster inevitably bites? For now, this looks as if an applicable place to fit him.

9. Joey Logano (Final week: 6)

Logano received the pole this previous weekend, proving he can nonetheless qualify quick even with out his special gloves, however he slid again on race day and completed a largely uninspiring ninth. He at all times appears to be a risk in Arizona, although, so his efficiency this weekend will inform us lots about how his season would possibly go.

10. Chase Elliott (Final week: 11)

Elliott’s first take a look at of the season at a non-drafting monitor went … meh? He hovered across the high 10 all race, however he additionally did not have the top-tier pace that his teammates in Larson and even Byron did. We all know he is able to it, however the No. 9 group nonetheless has lots to show to vindicate Hendrick Motorsports’ resolution to not make main modifications final offseason.

11. Ty Gibbs (Final week: NR)

After being largely invisible through the season’s first two races, he scored a top-five at Las Vegas regardless of losing first gear. Count on runs like these to be the norm for Gibbs in 2024.

12. Daniel Suarez (Final week: 10)

Suarez adopted up his thrilling win in Atlanta with a quietly strong Eleventh-place end in Sin Metropolis after main 15 laps early on pit technique. He is eighth in factors by means of three races and having the very best begin to a season of his Cup profession.

13. Bubba Wallace (Final week: 8)

Wallace’s quest for back-to-back-to-back top-fives to begin the season ended when his pit crew had bother getting a lug nut off the automotive and he ended up ending 13 laps down on account of prolonged repairs. Wallace had pace earlier than that, although, so he and his followers ought to nonetheless be happy with the way in which his season goes.

14. Brad Keselowski (Final week: 15)

Keselowski had the kind of race by which you overlook he is even on the monitor for a lot of the afternoon, after which all of a sudden you search for on the finish and he is simply outdoors the highest 10. His uneventful day resulted in a Thirteenth-place end, a wanted good factors efficiency after accidents derailed him at Daytona and Atlanta.

15. Corey LaJoie (Final week: NR)

Now that we have seen it on a non-drafting monitor, we will formally say it: Spire Motorsports is legit. LaJoie and his teammate, Carson Hocevar, had spectacular runs Sunday. Though Hocevar bought the higher end, LaJoie was the headliner as he ran inside the highest 10 for a lot of the afternoon. He crashed late and completed thirty second, however early indications are he is in for a profession 12 months.

16. Austin Cindric (Final week: 9)

Cindric had an incredible qualifying run to comply with up his sturdy begin to the season, and stayed within the high 10 all through the primary stage. However then he sped on pit highway and by no means recovered, ending a disappointing twenty ninth. In Arizona, the place Group Penske is at all times quick, we’ll get a a lot better gauge of Cindric’s season.

Dropped out: Todd Gilliland, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell

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