NASCAR Power Rankings: Brad Keselowski enters mix with Darlington win

Brad Keselowski with his win Sunday at Darlington Raceway not surprisingly puts him back in the top 10 of these power rankings, but he’s not the only one making a return to this list.

Also returning is the driver who finished right behind him, Ty Gibbs, who snapped out of a slump with a solid day.

Gibbs and Alex Bowman are the only drivers on this list who are not automatically qualified for the all-star race.

We’ll take a look at each driver’s all-star history and whether they will do better or worse than typical (the rankings are based on 2024 performance, weighted to more recent races).

1. Kyle Larson (Last Week: 1)

Larson is the defending winner of the all-star race but will have a difficult time repeating that feat. That’s not because he is doing worse this year (he’s leading the Cup standings) but because he won’t practice nor qualify the Hendrick Motorsports car (Kevin Harvick will do that) and the team won’t participate in the heats as Larson focuses on Indianapolis 500 qualifying. With the two different tire compounds (one softer than the other) and a repave and no time on the track, other drivers will be a step ahead of Larson.

2. Denny Hamlin (LW: 2)

Hamlin is starting his 18th consecutive all-star race. He has one win (2015) and one second (2022). Considering his short-track prowess this year and the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 team’s ability to adapt to different conditions, Hamlin would be the favorite going into the event.

3. William Byron (LW: 5)

Byron will make his sixth start in the main event, and he hasn’t finished top-5 in any of them. While he hasn’t been as dominant as earlier in the season, expect the Hendrick driver to potentially have his best all-star finish.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 3)

Truex is 0-for-13 in the all-star race with his last top-10 finish being a second in 2010. He has a good chance of finishing top-10 this year and while he has shown the ability, to adapt to situations (he won the 2023 Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum), this race often comes down to strategy, and that often hasn’t translated into success for the JGR driver in recent years.

5. Tyler Reddick (LW: 8)

Reddick has competed in two main events and was third last year. He wouldn’t be in my top-three this year as he is coming off making a bad move to ruin Chris Buescher’s day at Darlington, which could make the 23XI Racing driver just a tick tentative — and this race likely will require a driver to take risks to get to the front.

Chris Buescher & Tyler Reddick get into physical altercation after collision at Darlington

Chris Buescher & Tyler Reddick get into physical altercation after collision at Darlington

6. Chris Buescher (LW: 9)

Buescher has made three starts in the all-star race with a best of eighth. He started second but finished 16th last year. Expect the RFK Racing driver to earn his career-best finish on Sunday night.

7. Brad Keselowski (LW: NR)

Keselowski is 0-for-15 in the all-star race. He was second in 2012, 2016 and 2021. He snapped a 110-race winless streak Sunday at Darlington, so will this all-star winless streak end Sunday night? Probably not. North Wilkesboro isn’t like many other tracks (it’s a 0.625-mile track and was just repaved) so the focus of RFK Racing’s work on its Cup program probably isn’t for this race.

8. Chase Elliott (LW: 4)

Elliott won the 2020 all-star race at Bristol and has three top-5s in the event. The Hendrick driver loves old-school racing as he was fifth in this event last year. Expect another top-5 for Elliott this year.

Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman and Ross Chastain on being in a decent playoff position as second half of season approaches

Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman and Ross Chastain on being in a decent playoff position as second half of season approaches

9. Alex Bowman (LW: 7)

Bowman doesn’t have a top-5 in his five all-star starts and didn’t compete in the event last year as he was still recovering from a broken back. The Hendrick driver has to try to race his way into the main event — he will challenge for one of those transfer spots but competing for the win Sunday night is a tough ask.

10. Ty Gibbs (LW: NR)

Gibbs finished second in the Open last year to earn one of the transfer spots to the main event, where he finished ninth. He also did the tire test a couple of months ago at North Wilkesboro. A top-5 finish isn’t out of the question for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

On the verge: Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Noah Gragson, Michael McDowell, Bubba Wallace

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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