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NASCAR Cup: power rankings after Auto Club 400

FONTANA, CA – MARCH 18: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota, places the winner’s decal on his car after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 18, 2018 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ran its fifth race of the season, the Auto Cub 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sunday. It also was the final leg of the three-race West Coast Swing. Martin Truex claimed his first win of the season and the first victory of 2018 for Toyota after a dominant performance, snapping the string of consecutive wins by Kevin Harvick at three. Harvick was taken from contention after an early-race wreck from contact with Kyle Larson.

Here’s a look at the weekly power rankings after the Auto Club 400:

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex supplants Kevin Harvick as the top driver in this week’s power rankings after winning the Auto Club 400. Truex was fast all weekend in Fontana, winning the pole on Friday and, then, making history Sunday as the first driver to win a race after starting on the pole and running up front of all stages. He also led more than half the race, running up front for 125 of the 200-lap distance.

Kevin Harvick — Harvick may have wound up 35th out of 37, nine laps down in the Auto Club 400, but we’re talking about the winner of three of the five races this year, and when it comes to laps led, Harvick has been the dominator, so far, this season. And it’s not as if he was running poorly before the contact with Kyle Larson early on in Fontana. After starting 10th, he was racing Larson for position inside the top-five at the time of the wreck. And that’s after being fastest in two of the three practice sessions and posting the fastest laps in the first two rounds of qualifying, with one of those laps being a new track record.

Kyle Busch — Busch is third in the power rankings after finishing third at Auto Club Speedway. That third-place showing followed two-straight runner-up finishes. Aside from Truex, Busch was the only driver with double digits in the laps-led column Sunday, running up front for 62 laps. With Harvick out of the picture, Busch looked to be the only driver able to, at least somewhat, keep up with Truex on Sunday. Then, he was passed by Kyle Larson late in the race.

Kyle Larson — Larson was the runner-up to Truex in the Auto Club 400. He’s consistently been the top-running Chevrolet driver throughout the first five races of the season, with the exception of Austin Dillon’s Daytona 500 win after leading only the last lap. Larson and his No. 42 team seem to be the only ones not struggling to get used to the new Camaro ZL1. In terms of drivers with a manufacturer’s new car, Larson looks to have potential to be to Chevrolet in early 2018 what Truex was to Toyota in early 2017 — the lone driver not struggling to get a handle on the new car.

Joey Logano — After a top-five finish in Fontana, Logano is third in points behind the aforementioned Truex and Busch. Also, with his fifth-place finish Sunday, he has top-10 finishes in all but one of the five races, so far, in 2018.

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Posted by on March 20, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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