Christopher Bell
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When the prognosticators filled out their NASCAR playoff brackets, it's likely not a lot of them gave Christopher Bell much of a chance of making a deep run through the playoffs. But if they didn't, they were rather short-sighted in doing so.

Bell is very experienced in NASCAR's playoff format, as he made the Championship 4 in both of his full-time seasons in Trucks and Xfinity, including 2017 when he won the Truck Series championship. And this has turned into the best season of his Cup career, as he's earned career highs in top fives (10) and top 10s (17) to go along with a win at New Hampshire as well as three poles. Those stats were bolstered considerably by the Round of 16, which saw Bell shine.

After finishes of fifth, third and fourth in the Round of 16, Christopher Bell takes over the top spot in the CBS Sports NASCAR Power Rankings as he now continues his playoff run in the Round of 12. Bell only had to gain one spot to take over the top of the Power Rankings, but his quick step up was counteracted by massive movement both up and down after a chaotic, attrition-packed race at Bristol.

Four drivers gained seven or more spots, with Bristol winner Chris Buescher (+10) leading all drivers in spots gained. Meanwhile, five drivers lost seven spots or more, with Martin Truex Jr. taking the biggest hit of all by losing a full 11 spots, going from 10th in the Power Rankings all the way down to 21st after another mechanical failure.

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

RankDriverChangeComment
1Christopher Bell
Christopher Bell went three-for-three for top fives in the Round of 16, making him the first driver to advance to the Round of 12. A win in the next round would be a major statement toward Bell contending for a championship.
2William Byron
William Byron finally found the top five again at Bristol, finishing third for his best run since winning Martinsville in April. Byron is rounding back into form at exactly the right time.
3Chase Elliott--Chase Elliott recovered nicely from trouble to start the Round of 16, finishing second at Bristol to finish things off. Elliott re-assumes the points lead to start the Round of 12.
4Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin was one of (very) few Toyota drivers who came back from his issues on Saturday night. Hamlin overcame a cut right front tire and a bad final pit stop to finish ninth.
5Kyle Larson--After finishing fifth at Bristol, Kyle Larson remains in the championship hunt and very much relevant within it. He'll begin the Round of 12 fourth in the playoff standings.
6Ross Chastain
With finishes of seventh and sixth in his last two races, Ross Chastain is trending back toward the top five. Chastain's last top-five finish was a second at Atlanta in July.
7Ryan Blaney--The Bristol Night Race had to be absolutely maddening for Ryan Blaney and his team. Blaney took the early lead and led nine laps, but he was lucky to advance to the Round of 12 after massive tire and suspension issues.
8Daniel Suarez
In a world where contact and cut tires are most often the culprit of spins, Daniel Suarez just flat lost it on his own at Bristol. The trade-off is that he advances in the playoffs for the first time in his career.
9Joey Logano
After finishing 17th at Kansas, Joey Logano finished the Round of 16 with a DNF at Bristol due to suspension troubles. Logano is trending in the wrong direction at the start of the next round.
10Chase Briscoe
Credit to Chase Briscoe for responding when it mattered. Briscoe entered Saturday nine points below the cut line, but he advanced to the Round of 12 after starting second and finishing 14th with a large chunk of stage points.
11Austin Cindric
Austin Cindric has a real chance to become the first rookie to make a serious run at the Cup championship. The last time that happened was in 2006, when Denny Hamlin had a mathematical shot at winning the championship entering the season finale.
12Chris Buescher
Chris Buescher's gap of 222 races between wins was the second longest in NASCAR history. He came just short of the record set by Bill Elliott, who endured a 226-race winless streak between wins in 1994 and 2001.
13Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace had another top-five run going before a power steering failure ruined his night early. It was an odd sequence, as 23XI teammate Ty Gibbs also suffered a power steering failure just a few laps later.
14Alex Bowman
It was a good thing Alex Bowman ran as well as he did at Kansas, because he ended up needing the points to make the Round of 12. Bowman finished 32nd after being collected in the multi-car crash on the backstretch.
15Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell's career year continued with another strong run at Bristol that ended just short of a top 10 in 11th. His average finish is a career-high 16.7 with still seven races left to run.
16Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick did what he needed to do by putting himself in position to win late in the race. But a botched final pit stop prevented him from the chance at a potential walk-off win, ending his playoff run.
17Tyler Reddick
A bad week in the news cycle ended the worst possible way for Tyler Reddick, as he was eliminated from the playoffs after suffering major damage in a mid-race crash. Now, uncertainty surrounding his place at RCR could very well define the rest of his season.
18Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski had quite the quote about winning Bristol as a car owner after a cut tire while leading kept him from winning it as a driver: "It's kind of like getting kicked in the balls and winning the lottery in the same day."
19Justin Haley
Bristol marked a great night for Kaulig Racing, as Justin Haley finished 12th while AJ Allmendinger finished seventh. That marked the first time both Kaulig cars have finished in the top 15 all season.
20Cole Custer
Bristol marked what might have been one of the most complete races of Cole Custer's entire Cup career. Custer ran right up inside the top five before finishing eighth, his best finish in two years.
21Martin Truex Jr.
A power steering failure relegated Martin Truex Jr. to a last-place finish at Bristol. It was his first last-place finish since the 2018 Brickyard 400, where he only completed 41 laps before suffering a brake failure.
22Kyle Busch
After his announcement that he'll move to RCR in 2022, there were a lot of raised eyebrows from people on Twitter when the 23XI Toyotas came back out on track, with Bubba Wallace passing Busch and costing him a point. However, it was less subterfuge than the No. 45 team having an owner's championship battle of their own to think about.
23Erik Jones
Multiple incidents cost Erik Jones a chance at a better finish, but it certainly could have been worse. Jones would salvage a 21st-place finish as he looks to play spoiler again in the Round of 12.
24Austin Dillon
Austin Dillon made the playoffs in spectacular fashion by winning at Daytona, and he leaves it in spectacular fashion too. A multi-car crash knocked Dillon out of a chance at the championship.
25Aric Almirola
Despite failing to finish with a mechanical failure, Aric Almirola was able to walk away from Bristol with the satisfaction of winning the pole and leading a season-high 36 laps. Almirola had led just nine laps all season prior to Saturday night.
26Corey LaJoie
Bristol marked one of Corey LaJoie's best runs of the season, as he capitalized on attrition to earn a 15th-place finish. It was his first such result since Talladega in April.
27Todd Gilliland
Todd Gilliland's paint scheme was a blast from Front Row Motorsports' past, as Long John Silver's was long the sponsor of their cars back in the day. He gave the modern version a good run at Bristol, finishing 18th.
28Harrison Burton
Between cut tires and spins, Harrison Burton had major issues from the drop of the green flag onward. It was remarkable that after all that, Burton finished 16th.
29Cody Ware
When I spoke to Cody Ware during pre-race on Saturday, he wasn't overtly excited about the racecar he had. Maybe he was just playing possum with me, because Ware tied his second-best finish of the season in 17th.
30Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
With Chris Buescher's win, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. now owns the longest winless streak in the Cup Series. It's been 192 races since Stenhouse's last win, which came in the car that Buescher now drives.