NASCAR Power Rankings: Way-too-early top 10 for 2024
It’s that time of year. Time for power rankings.
The way-too-early version of power rankings.
Yes, it is still more than 12 weeks until the exhibition Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and three months until the Daytona 500.
But it is always fun to look ahead. Here are my top 10 drivers and the next six that are on the verge of making the list:
1. Kyle Larson
Larson finished second in the Cup standings and led the most laps of any driver in 2023. Plus, the Hendrick Motorsports driver was the most consistent throughout the season as far as having speed. And he’s got the Indianapolis 500 coming in 2024, which will only boost his enjoyment and focus. Also, what are the odds he has another season with eight races where he doesn’t finish?
2. Ryan Blaney
Blaney won the 2023 Cup title and finished the year with great results: first, 12th, sixth, second, first and second over the final six events. The Team Penske driver will have that confidence carrying into 2024.
Ryan Blaney talks with Bob Pockrass on top of the Empire State Building after winning the 2023 Cup title
3. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin finished fifth in points as the top driver who didn’t make the Championship 4. He was on his game for much of 2023 and there’s no reason to think he’ll take a step back in 2024. Of course, the story will be can the Joe Gibbs Racing driver win the championship? There are only 51 weeks or so to go until then.
Bryon led more miles than any other driver last year, tied for the most top-5s for the season with Larson (15) and had the most top-10s of any driver with 21. So why is the Hendrick Motorsports driver fourth? Good question. The last two races showed maybe a slight step back on short tracks.
There is no reason to think Bell won’t improve even more in 2024. And he made the Championship 4 the past two years. To put him fifth is probably an insult, but which of the four drivers ahead of him will he beat on a week-in and week-out basis?
Reddick won two races and finished sixth in the standings in his first year at 23XI Racing. He will build on that and be even better in 2024. The only question will be consistency for Reddick.
Chastain didn’t have a great 2023 but still won two races, including the season finale in Phoenix. That has to serve as a little bit of momentum for 2024. It is hard to keep reminding oneself that this Trackhouse Racing team is still building.
Speaking of teams that are building, Keselowski finished eighth in the standings in his second year as driver and co-owner at RFK Racing. His teammate, Chris Buescher, was seventh and won three races while Keselowski won none. Why isn’t Buescher in the top 10? The new Ford body could take some time to adapt to for Ford teams, and Keselowski’s experience at adapting to change is deep.
9. Kyle Busch
Busch was inconsistent last year in his first at Richard Childress Racing. Yet he still won three races. They will improve on that consistency and threaten to win more races. Don’t count out Busch.
10. Ty Gibbs
Gibbs had a great rookie year. He finished 18th in the overall standings with four top-5s and 10 top-10s. Double those for his second full-time season and expect all Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to make the playoffs.
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
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