NASCAR Power Rankings: Toyota teams take hit after struggles at Sonoma

1 Ross Chastain — An example of where your reputation can hurt you came when Ross Chastain got shoved into Austin Dillon in Turn 5 by Kyle Larson. Chastain wasn’t at fault, but Dillon gave Chastain a shot in the esses thinking he had run through him. 2 Chase Elliott Although a pit road miscue prevented him from building on his road course legacy, Chase Elliott remains the regular-season points leader after leading a good chunk of laps at Sonoma. Elliott’s lead over Ross Chastain now stands at 16 points. 3 Ryan Blaney For a driver who complained mid-race about not being able to pass, Ryan Blaney sure fared well at Sonoma. Blaney finished sixth, matching his finish from the first road course race at COTA. 4 Kyle Busch In the past five races, Kyle Busch’s finishes of third, second and second are sandwiched in-between a 33rd at Darlington and a 30th at Sonoma. Sometimes, that’s just the way the (M&M’s) cookie crumbles. 5 Kyle Larson Kyle Larson looked like his 2021 self through the opening stage at Sonoma, leading the first 26 laps from the pole before being set back by strategy. A four-race suspension to Cliff Daniels for losing a wheel will be a major blow to Larson. 6 William Byron A ninth-place finish at Sonoma was much needed for William Byron. For Byron, it marked his first top-10 finish since winning at Martinsville all the way back in April. 7 Joey Logano A 17th-place finish seems like nothing to write home about, until you consider all the points Joey Logano gained at Sonoma. Logano used strategy to finish second in Stage 1 and win Stage 2, piling up points in the process. 8 Christopher Bell Christopher Bell was a non-factor at Sonoma, experiencing steering issues on Saturday before finishing 27th on Sunday. For Bell, it’s his third-worst finish of 2022. 9 Kevin Harvick A slow pit stop cost Kevin Harvick a chance at the victory, but he was able to finish fourth anyway in one of his strongest runs of the season. Harvick now has three top-five finishes in the last five races. 10 Alex Bowman — Though Alex Bowman didn’t experience the sort of trouble Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott did, he might have taken it. Bowman’s 16th-place finish was the lowest of any Hendrick driver despite pit road miscues for both Larson and Elliott. 11 Denny Hamlin — Rather than take a top-20 finish, some of the Joe Gibbs Racing teams elected to pit with under 10 to go in hopes that a late caution would come out and allow them to leapfrog the field. But that never came, leaving Denny Hamlin with a 31st-place finish. 12 Chase Briscoe — Not much was seen or heard from Chase Briscoe on Sunday, but he ended up with a solid 13th-place finish. For Briscoe, that ties his second-best finish since the start of May. 13 Martin Truex Jr. Like Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. also came to pit road late in a last-ditch effort to gain track position if a caution came out. Unfortunately for Truex Jr., he finished 26th, without the luxury of a win in the bank to soften the blow. 14 Austin Dillon After just missing out on a top 10 in 11th, Austin Dillon continues to top 15 his competition to death. Trouble is, that may not be enough to point his way into the playoffs. 15 Austin Cindric Watch out for Austin Cindric in the summer months. Cindric’s fifth-place finish was his best since winning the Daytona 500, and he’s trending upward just in time for several more road course races in the lead-up to the playoffs. 16 Daniel Suarez Shoutout to Daniel Suarez for calling his shot. During a rain delay at Dover, Suarez said he wanted a piñata for when he got his first Cup win. Sunday at Sonoma, a taco-shaped piñata met its demise via a victorious Suarez fist. 17 Michael McDowell After starting fourth and finishing third, Michael McDowell had arguably the most complete race weekend of his Cup career at Sonoma. And thanks to that, he now has a new personal-best for top-10 finishes in a season. 18 Kurt Busch Kurt Busch slots in at 18th in this week’s Power Rankings, the same result he ended up with at Sonoma. That was the best that Toyota could do on what was a major off day for both Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI. 19 Aric Almirola — Aric Almirola’s calling card has never been road racing, but his day at Sonoma can be chalked up as a success. Almirola finished fifth and second in the two stages, then built on that with a 14th place run. 20 Chris Buescher One week after sitting out with COVID-19, Chris Buescher was back and better than ever at Sonoma. Buescher’s second-place run marked his best finish in Cup since his lone victory at Pocono in 2016. 21 Justin Haley After two straight mechanical issues at Kansas and Charlotte, Justin Haley is now back on track. A 12th-place finish at Sonoma marked his second-straight top 15 and his best finish since a third at Darlington. 22 Erik Jones Thankfully there’s no “three spins and you’re out” rule in NASCAR, because Erik Jones would have come perilously close to that after two self-spins at Sonoma. Jones recovered from both, but he only finished 22nd. 23 Tyler Reddick With Daniel Suarez now having won a race, all eyes are on Tyler Reddick as the next potential first-time winner. Unfortunately, Reddick’s results are so across the board (35th at Sonoma) that his win might not come until he starts being more consistent. 24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. At this point in his career, no one is ever going to think of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as an outstanding road racer. But at least he earned some stage points at Sonoma, a positive in what was otherwise a nondescript 25th-place run. 25 Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski’s top-10 drought is finally over. With a 10th-place run at Sonoma, Keselowski scored his first top 10 since all the way back in the Daytona 500 in February. 26 Cole Custer Cole Custer’s weekend at Sonoma was par for the course for his 2022 season: Be fast in qualifying, peak on Saturday and fade on Sunday. Custer qualified sixth at Sonoma but finished 21st. 27 Ty Dillon Even if his results don’t jump off the stat sheet, Ty Dillon might be one of NASCAR’s most solid drivers this season. He’s gotten his team to the finish with respectable results, doing so again at Sonoma with a 23rd-place run. 28 Bubba Wallace The off week has come just in time for Bubba Wallace. He only lasted nine laps before his engine blew at Sonoma, capping off a streak of miscues, missed opportunities and frustration. 29 Todd Gilliland Todd Gilliland’s grandfather Butch made eight of his 10 Cup starts at Sonoma, while his father David finished a career-best second there in 2008. Todd finished 24th in his first Sonoma outing, matching his grandfather’s best finish from 1997 and 1998. 30 Harrison Burton Harrison Burton was one of the drivers who was able to use varying pit strategies to his advantage. Burton finished in the top 10 in both Stages 1 and 2, picking up some valuable points in the Rookie of the Year battle.