There are certain weekends that a driver has in a given season — when they’re high in the points but the deck is stacked against them — that determine whether or not they’re championship material. Chase Elliott may have had that moment on Sunday.
After a cut tire led to him crashing his primary car in practice, Elliott was forced to start from the rear of the field at Darlington with a backup car. And sure enough, he drove his second option through the field more than once, coming home fifth at the checkered flag and capitalizing on a day where his challengers for the regular season crown faltered. While William Byron and Ryan Blaney are now tied for second in the points standings, Elliott has built a 65-point lead .
He’s also taken the top spot in the CBS Sports Power Rankings for the first time this year.
While Elliott swapped spots with Ross Chastain at the top of the standings, Byron headlined the big movers by jumping up three spots to move into third. Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano each gained four spots, while Michael McDowell matched Byron with three spots gained. There were several big losers this week as well, including Kyle Larson (-5), Chase Briscoe and Martin Truex Jr. (-4), and Cole Custer (-3).
Since this was Throwback Weekend, it’s interesting to think of what these Power Rankings would have looked like in years’ past: If we match car numbers and go back 20 years, Bill Elliott would be leading the power rankings followed by Steve Park, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Bobby Labonte, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Mike Skinner, and Ward Burton. Feel free to use your imagination for the rest of the rankings as well.
Here’s a look at our updated rankings in their entirety: