NASCAR: Nashville
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If there were any questions about Austin Cindric's abilities and his worthiness as an up-and-coming NASCAR star -- as the son of a Team Penske executive, those have come with the territory -- let the results of his maiden Cup Series season speak for themselves. Winning the Daytona 500 alone made Cindric's rookie year a success, and it's long put him in the catbird's seat to win Rookie of the Year honors. 

But it's what's come beyond Daytona that is beginning to make Cindric's rookie year stand out. With a third-place run at Atlanta, Cindric scored his fourth top-10 finish in a row, bringing his total of top-10 finishes to six just past the midway point of the season.

That's one less top-10 finish than Cole Custer had in his Rookie of the Year-winning season in 2020, and it's more than William Byron (2018), Daniel Hemric (2019) and Chase Briscoe (2021) had in their Rookie of the Year seasons the past few years. As he approaches the playoffs, Cindric is beginning to track down not only Custer's 2020, but also Chase Elliott's 2016 season (17 top 10s) and Erik Jones' 2017 season (14 top 10s) among the more decorated rookie seasons in recent memory -- none of which, of course, include the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

Cindric was a very notable gainer in this week's CBS Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, as he moved up three spots to sixth and is now knocking on the door of the top five. Another notable gainer was Corey LaJoie, who went from being unranked all the way up to 23rd after nearly winning Atlanta, and he was joined by Erik Jones (+5) in gaining a major chunk of spots.

With Atlanta providing yet another unpredictable speedway race, there was a great deal of movement throughout the power rankings, particularly to accommodate those who moved up. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost a full eight spots after an engine failure, while other notable losers included the Dillon brothers (both -5), Alex Bowman (-5) and Kyle Busch (-4)

Here's a look at our updated rankings in their entirety:

1Chase Elliott--Who knows what can happen in the playoff era of NASCAR, but Chase Elliott might be putting together an even better season than his championship year in 2020. In a season of a level playing field, Elliott is now beginning to tilt the table toward him.
2Ross Chastain--There's a really good way for Ross Chastain to make sure that any drivers angry with him don't ruin his chances at the championship come playoff time: Just outrun them, like he did at Atlanta by finishing second despite earning multiple drivers' ire.
3Ryan Blaney
Corey LaJoie running at the front late in the going must have made Ryan Blaney really nervous. But with LaJoie falling short of a victory, the playoff status quo was maintained and Blaney continues to enjoy a nice cushion over the cutoff line.
4Kyle Larson
Despite suffering from steering issues early in the race, Kyle Larson's team was able to correct the problem and allow their driver to race back to the front. Larson ended up finishing 13th.
5Martin Truex Jr.
A victory for Martin Truex Jr. at Atlanta would have been a testament to the durability of the Next Gen car. Despite spinning out and backing his car into the outside wall, Truex was able to soldier on and contend for the win until the very end.
6Austin Cindric
A Rookie of the Year contender hasn't scored double-digit top 10 finishes since Erik Jones had 14 in his ROTY-winning year of 2017. With his sixth top 10 and fourth in a row, Austin Cindric is coming for that distinction.
7Christopher Bell--Joe Gibbs Racing made some changes to their pit crews, switching some members between Cristopher Bell's No. 20 crew and the struggling No. 23 crew at 23XI Racing. Then, Bell's crew proceeded to leave a wheel loose that fell off as Bell left pit road. Not great optics.
8Kevin Harvick
Christopher Bell's misfortune was good for Kevin Harvick, as it allowed him to close the points gap for the final spot above the cutoff line. Harvick is now 18 points behind Bell for the final spot in the playoffs.
9Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch got collected in two different accidents, had to ride around all day with major front end damage, and made up most of his spots through attrition. All told, he was lucky to get a top 20 for his troubles.
10Daniel Suarez
Atlanta was good to Daniel Suarez in 2022. After finishing fourth in the spring, Suarez followed that run up with another top-10 finish, a sixth on Sunday.
11Denny Hamlin
You have to wonder sometimes if Denny Hamlin's bark is worse than his bite. Despite getting turned off the bumper of Ross Chastain yet again, there was no confrontation to follow up on their run-in at Gateway.
12Tyler Reddick
Tyler Reddick actually gets another bump in the power rankings despite a DNF. Reddick led twice for 13 laps, signaling perhaps a midseason resurgence for Reddick following his first win.
13William Byron--Although a multi-car crash took him out of it, a return visit to Atlanta was just what William Byron needed. Byron led a total of 41 laps, the first time he's led more than one lap since Kansas in May.
14Joey Logano
Joey Logano almost had the recovery of the day, as he went from getting launched into the air to running back on the lead lap and in the lead pack. Alas, a crash with eight laps to go ended Logano's day for good.
15Michael McDowell
Instead of Logano, it was Michael McDowell who had the recovery of the race. McDowell was three laps down at one point after cutting a tire, but he persevered to finish 15th.
16Kurt Busch
On the last lap of a speedway race, sometimes you're only as good as your ability to make it past calamity. Kurt Busch was the unfortunate soul to get clipped by Corey LaJoie's spinning car, sending him into the wall and out of a top-10 finish.
17Erik Jones
Had the last lap played out differently, Erik Jones may have gotten the chance to play spoiler. Jones helped push LaJoie to his bid at the lead, and he was still in fourth with a shot when the caution flew on the final lap.
18Chase Briscoe--Despite his right rear tire shredding after a spin, Chase Briscoe was able to salvage his day in the ATL with a 16th-place finish. Not bad for someone missing an entire fender.
19Alex Bowman
Although Alex Bowman made as much noise at the front as he has in awhile, the end result was quite concerning: A blown tire led to Bowman crashing out, giving him his second DNF in the last three races.
20Aric Almirola
Let me try and explain something: Aric Almirola's eighth-place finish at Atlanta is temporary. Aric Almirola saying "he better hope I don't see him at Food Lion" about another driver is forever. What a quote.
21Justin Haley
In the Xfinity Series, Justin Haley developed to become an outstanding speedway racer at Daytona and Talladega. That's carried over to Atlanta, as Haley got his second top-10 of the year with a seventh-place run.
22Chris Buescher
Chris Buescher got collected in a three-car crash early in the race, and then a cut tire sent him into the wall and finished him off. Not the kind of day Buescher needed, with a win his only likely avenue to make the playoffs.
23Corey LaJoie
Corey LaJoie enters the power rankings this week after the very finest run of his entire Cup career. LaJoie's 19 laps led were a career high for him, exceeding the 12 he led at Phoenix in 2021.
24Cole Custer
There had to be a part of Cole Custer's soul that was screaming, "Oh no, not again!" when he slid into the crash on the final lap. But on the other side of that was Custer's first top-10 finish of the year, breaking a cycle of late-race misfortune.
25Harrison Burton--After leading one lap at Road America, Harrison Burton proceeded to lead a career-high nine laps at Atlanta and score his very first top-10 finish. That'll give the Wood Brothers something to hang their hat on for the second half of the year.
26Austin Dillon
After pounding the Turn 2 wall, Austin Dillon has now dropped all the way back to 117 points below the cutoff line after his second-straight DNF. A catastrophic two weeks for Dillon in the race to the playoffs.
27Bubba Wallace
At this point, Bubba Wallace and his team should take top 15s any day of the week any way they can get them. A 14th-place run at Atlanta was just Wallace's fifth top 15 of the entire season.
28Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
When he made his way to the front and took the lead for two laps, it looked like Ricky Stenhouse Jr's time to play playoff spoiler had come. But an engine failure ruined his chances, marking a major missed opportunity.
29Brad Keselowski
By the end of Stage 2, Brad Keselowski had made his way up to third and looked like he was ready to mix it up for the lead. That was as good as things got -- he had a pit road penalty shortly afterward then got caught in a crash.
30Ty Dillon
Despite being caught in an early crash, things looked to be improving for Ty Dillon after he got track position to start up front on a mid-race restart. It didn't last, because contact between him and Garrett Smithley triggered a multi-car crash soon afterward.