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NASCAR power rankings: The best Cup drivers heading to Atlanta

Alex Andrejev, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

NASCAR returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for its second Cup Series race at the track this year. The Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart is at Sunday, July 11 at 3:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

Below are The Charlotte Observer’s NASCAR power rankings for the week of July 5. This list is updated each week.

Honorable mention

— Alex Bowman (-1) didn’t fare as well at Road America as he has at previous road courses this year. He finished 22nd last Sunday after his respective first- and seventh-place finishes at Pocono the week prior. The bottom-half finish also snapped his string of top 10s at road courses, where he finished 10th (Daytona), eighth (Circuit of the Americas) and ninth (Sonoma) heading into the weekend.

— William Byron (-2) similarly struggled in Wisconsin with a 33rd-place finish as his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott grabbed the win at Road America. Byron still has 14 top-10 finishes this year, but last Sunday’s finish was not a bright spot for the driver who started on the pole with the fastest qualifying time.

 

Top 3

— 3. Chase Elliott (+2) scored his second win of the 2021 season last Sunday to prove he’s still NASCAR’s king of the road courses (and could be the all-time road course king before the season is over). He has nine top-five finishes and 11 top-10s heading to Atlanta, where he’ll start on the pole.

— 2. Kyle Busch (+1) finished third at Road America for his third top-three finish in a row. The strong road course performance was on the heels of a second-place finish followed by a win at Pocono. He sits fourth in points (685) behind Denny Hamlin (798), Kyle Larson (795) and Byron (713).

— 1. Kyle Larson (no change) actually didn’t win a race last weekend, nor finish in the top 10. Larson finished 16th at Road America and surprisingly wasn’t much of a challenger to Elliott. His lowest previous finish was 19th all the way back at Kansas, but don’t write him off too quickly. He returns this weekend to Atlanta, a track where he last finished second and led 269 of 325 laps.

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