Monday Martin struck again.
For the second time this season, Martin Truex Jr. won a delayed race on a Monday afternoon. This time it was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where the 43-year-old veteran led 254 of 301 laps to claim his third win of the season and 34th of his career.
The regular season continues to wind down, with six races remaining and five playoff spots up for grabs as the series heads to Pocono Raceway next week.
Who is the driver to beat after the New Hampshire race? Here’s our final NASCAR power ranking ahead of the next race at Pocono (Sunday, July 23, 2:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBCSports.com):
Table of Contents
1. Martin Truex Jr.
Last week: 3
Won the first stage, won the second stage, won the race. It was a flawless performance from Truex and the No. 19 team on Monday as he earned his first career win at New Hampshire. At a track that compares similarly to championship host Phoenix Raceway, MTJ made a statement to its competitors with this race.
2. Denny Hamlin
Last week: 2
It was an eerily quiet weekend for Hamlin on one of his best tracks. He didn’t match the speed of teammates Truex and Christopher Bell in practice and qualifying on Saturday. Then in the race he quickly climbed into the top 10 but couldn’t keep up with the leaders. Hamlin finished seventh, which is about where the No. 11 has been running for most of the race.
Last week: 1
What happened to No. 24 in New Hampshire? I don’t even know if Byron knows that. He started seventh and picked up two tires on the first pitstop, taking the lead for nine laps and finishing second in Stage 1. The car then disappeared completely, dropping out of the top 20 before finishing 24th. This drastic change in the middle of a race is puzzling.
4. Kyle Larson
Last week: 5
Larson’s race was the opposite of teammate Byron’s as he struggled early before coming back very late. He fell from 15th outside the top 20 on stage one, then recovered to finish second in stage 2 and third in the race. Larson now has a top-nine top-five finish in the series in 20 starts this season.
5. Kyle Busch
Last week: 4
Busch hit the trifecta in New Hampshire, crashing in practice, qualifying and the race. The damage during the race was terminal, giving him a final 36th place finish to snap a seven-race top-10 streak. Busch could turn things around quickly next week, though — he has four career wins at Pocono.
Last week: 8
The New England native dropped a spot on Monday, finishing second on his home track. Still, it was one of the most comprehensive runs Logano and the No. 22 team have put on this season. He was competitive from start to finish, which could be a good sign for the defending champion.
7. Christopher Bell
Last week: 7
Monday was a missed opportunity for Bell. He finished two laps in 29th after starting on pole. The No. 20 pit crew put Bell behind early in the race with several errors on pit road. Then, in the closing laps while racing in the top 10, Bell slid into the wall on his own. It’s now been three consecutive finishes outside the top 15 for Bell.
Last week: 6
The slump continued for Chastain in New Hampshire as he finished 23rd after starting 31st. In his last eight races, Chastain has finished outside the top 20 six times. He has won in Nashville during that streak, but the poor finishes have piled up quickly as Chastain plummets in the points standings.
9. Ryan Blaney
Last week: 9
Blaney was in contention for victory in New Hampshire before the final pit stop, when he was picked up a penalty for running over equipment. This forced him to start from the back, and he only recovered to finish 22nd when he was destined for a top five finish.
10. Brad Keselowski
Last week: top four eliminated
Keselowski has four top-fives and eight top-10s in 20 races in his second season with RFK Racing. He had just one and six, respectively, in 36 races last season. This team’s improvement was significant, with Keselowski earning another top five in New Hampshire.
First four out: Chris Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick