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NASCAR Power Rankings: Chase Elliott hits highest position of season

Chase Elliott cracks the top three this week thanks to his win Sunday at Texas. But which two drivers is he still looking to pass?

Chase Elliott cracks the top three on this list thanks to his win Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

But it wasn't just that race. It was the fifth-place finish at Richmond. And then the third place (after William Byron passed him on the last lap) at Martinsville.

The fact he challenged for the win on back-to-back weeks at two unique tracks distinguishes Elliott as one of the top drivers currently in the series. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Byron remains atop the list after a third-place finish at Texas, his fourth top-five of the season (the other three were wins).

And just think how Elliott was doing after nine races a year ago. He had competed in just three events after missing six races because of a broken leg.

How do the drivers on this list compare to where they were a year ago? We'll take a look on this list (The only different track over the first nine races was Texas; last year, California's final 2-mile track configuration race was the second event of the year).

1. William Byron (Last Week: 1)

Byron is ahead of where he was after nine races last year, and that's still the case when taking into consideration he had a 60-point penalty for a greenhouse violation. He has 297 points and three wins this year — last year at this time, he had 208 points (268 if not for the penalty) and two wins.

2. Kyle Larson (LW: 2)

Larson certainly has left wins on the table, but he has done a solid job of maximizing points as he leads the series standings even though he doesn't have as many wins at this point this year as he did last year. The Hendrick driver has 335 points and one win — last year it was 285 points and two wins.

3. Chase Elliott (LW: 5)

Obviously, Elliott has more points at this point of the season with 303 points this year (and a win) while he had 76 points in three races last year. His average point total this year is 33.7; last year at this time (skewed by Daytona) was 25.3.

4. Denny Hamlin (LW: 3)

Like Byron, Hamlin had a penalty in the first couple of months last year. His was 25 points for intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain at Phoenix. But even when considering the penalty, he's been stronger this year with 307 points and two wins; last year, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was at 247 points (272 without the penalty) and no wins.

5. Christopher Bell (LW: 4)

Bell has been involved in accidents in five races this year, impacting his points-earning potential. So it's no wonder he is at just 250 points this year with one win, when at this time last year the JGR driver had 302 points and one win.

6. Tyler Reddick (LW: 10)

Reddick is the driver who is the most similar in points this year as he was in 2023. Last year at this time, the 23XI Racing driver already had a win (at COTA) and had earned 265 points. This year? No wins but 269 points.

7. Ty Gibbs (LW: 9)

The eye test says Ty Gibbs is vastly improved over his solid rookie season. And the points prove it. While he's still searching for his first Cup win, the JGR driver has 280 after nine races of his sophomore season; he had just 193 last year.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 6)

Truex has appeared frustrated, but the competition should note — the 2023 regular-season champion is well ahead of his 2023 stats. He has 318 points so far this year; last year at this time, he was at just 266.

9. Ryan Blaney (LW: 7)

Blaney remains the only Ford on this list and his numbers show he is getting off to a little better start. Winless at this time last year, the 2023 Cup champion doesn't have a win this year but does have more points — 278 this season while 241 after nine races in 2023.

10. Bubba Wallace (LW: NR)

Wallace got off to a rough start in 2023 and had just 175 points at this time. The 23XI Racing driver has 256 this year after a much stronger start with three top-5 and four top-10 finishes.

On the verge: Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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