Denny Hamlin USATSI NASCAR Cup Series
USATSI

As the fall has arrived and the NASCAR playoffs head into their first elimination race, there's a new way to quantify what the 2022 season has been like. Of the 32 drivers that have competed all season long for the Cup Series championship, over half of them have won.

Bubba Wallace's win last week at Kansas marked the 18th different winner in 28 races this season, breaking a NASCAR record for the most different winners through that span and bringing this year's Cup Series just two winners away from setting the all-time record for different winners in a season. And that's just part of why the 2022 playoffs have become so difficult to project, and why there's been so much movement throughout the CBS Sports NASCAR Power Rankings all season long.

After his second consecutive runner-up finish, Denny Hamlin takes the Power Rankings lead from Joey Logano, who dropped to sixth after taking the lead at Darlington. Logano was one of the biggest losers of the week, but his fall paled in comparison to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, both of whom lost eight spots after their troubles at Kansas compounded their respective issues in the Southern 500.

Meanwhile, Wallace's win made him the biggest gainer in the Power Rankings (+9), with several playoff drivers not far behind. William Byron gained seven spots to move all the way up into the top five, and Chase Briscoe (+6) and Alex Bowman (+5) were also rewarded for their performances in the Heartland.

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

RankDriverChangeComment
1Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin advanced to the Round of 12 by winning at Kansas -- as a car owner. As a driver, he'll try to join the 23XI Racing No. 45 team in Victory Lane in the next round at Bristol.
2Christopher Bell
With 58 points over the cut line, Christopher Bell is the current points leader and the only driver now locked into the Round of 12. Could a serious championship run be in Bell's future?
3Chase Elliott
An 11th-place run at Kansas with stage points was exactly what Chase Elliott needed after two-straight DNFs. It allowed him to pad his points total to a more comfortable 28 above the cutoff line.
4William Byron
A sixth-place run for William Byron at Kansas marked his best finish since winning at Martinsville in the springtime.
5Kyle Larson
With an eighth-place finish at Kansas, Kyle Larson has a 27-point advantage over the cutoff line to make the Round of 12. The simplest way to advance would be to win the Bristol Night Race, which Larson did a year ago.
6Joey Logano
Joey Logano couldn't follow up on a front row starting spot at Kansas, earning minimal stage points and then finishing a lap down in 17th. The good news is that Logano is still 40 points above the cutoff line.
7Ryan Blaney
In his Cup career, none of Ryan Blaney's seven career wins have come on a short track. But he did win at Bristol in the Xfinity Series in 2014, so keep an eye on YRB this Saturday night.
8Tyler Reddick
A cut tire while leading ruined Tyler Reddick's day at Kansas and left him just two points above the cutoff line. Now, he has to deal with the added distraction of effectively being demoted to a new team at RCR next season.
9Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace right now reminds me of where he was in the Truck Series in 2014. Wallace was outstanding in the fall of that season, with two wins, four top fives, and seven top 10s in the final eight races en route to third in the points standings.
10Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex's very first NASCAR win came when he won a Busch Series race at Bristol in the spring of 2004. It's hard to believe he's never won there in what's now a long Cup career.
11Alex Bowman
Kansas marked Alex Bowman's most outstanding run of the season, as he led 107 laps before finishing fourth. It marked the first time Bowman has led over 100 laps since he led 164 in the 2020 Coca-Cola 600.
12Daniel Suarez
Daniel Suarez finished 10th at Kansas, but the pace he had left him wanting more. Suarez had one of the fastest cars on the race's final run, but didn't have the track position to get a better finish.
13Ross Chastain
Ross Chastain finally stopped the bleeding at Kansas, earning points in both stages before earning a seventh place finish -- his best result since an eighth place run at New Hampshire in July.
14Austin Cindric
After a 12th place run at Kansas, Austin Cindric is two points above the cutoff line and in position to advance to the Round of 12. He's trying to become the first rookie to advance in the playoffs since Chase Elliott made the Round of 12 in 2016.
15Kyle Busch
There's an idea that lame duck drivers don't win championships. With Kyle Busch now on his way out at Joe Gibbs Racing and below the cutoff line heading into Bristol, we'll see if that holds true.
16Erik Jones
Kansas was a disappointing way for Erik Jones to follow up on his Southern 500 win. Jones was collected in a mid-race crash and finished three laps down in 29th.
17Austin Dillon
Very quietly, Austin Dillon picked up a stage point at Kansas and went on to finish 14th. He now enters Bristol three points below the Round of 12 cutoff line.
18Michael McDowell
After leading one lap after a restart, Michael McDowell has now led at least once in five different races this season. Three of those have come in McDowell's last four starts from Watkins Glen onwards.
19Chase Briscoe
A 13th place finish was just what Chase Briscoe needed after a crash at Darlington. He's now a much more manageable nine points below the cutoff line.
20Justin Haley
I was extremely tempted to put Justin Haley 19th in the Power Rankings after another 19th place finish at Kansas. But with playoff drivers being weighed a bit more heavily, 20th this week will have to do.
21Kevin Harvick
In over 20 years as a Cup Series driver, Kevin Harvick had never posted three DNFs in a row until he crashed out at Kansas last week. Harvick's seven DNFs in 2022 also set a new career-high in that category.
22Chris Buescher
If it wasn't for a self-inflicted error, Chris Buescher could have been a factor at Kansas. Buescher drove all the way up to seventh before hitting the wall and losing three laps, but he made all of them back up and finished 15th.
23Aric Almirola
Sometimes, teams that don't make the playoffs run experimental setups to close out the year, effectively choosing to focus on 2023. After a poor showing, Aric Almirola and his team might want to throw the one they brought to Kansas in the rubbish bin.
24Cole Custer
Kansas marked a bit of a step back for Cole Custer after some recent stronger runs. Custer ran mid-pack and finished 22nd.
25Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski played a factor in the finish, as he was just fast enough that Bubba Wallace couldn't put him another lap down and pull further away from Denny Hamlin. It didn't mean much for Keselowski, though, as he finished a lap down in 25th.
26Ty Dillon
After another top 20 finish at Kansas, Ty Dillon will have a new crew chief starting this weekend. Chad Norris will take over for Jerame Donley for the remainder of the 2022 season.
27Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
If you're looking for a potential 19th different winner, how about Ricky Stenhouse Jr.? Stenhouse has a pair of runner-up finishes at Bristol and looked very fast at Kansas before a cut tire ruined his day.
28Todd Gilliland--Todd Gilliland makes his way back into the Power Rankings after a 23rd place run at Kansas. More to build on as Gilliland approaches the end of his rookie season.
29Corey LaJoie
Corey LaJoie had a top 20 finish in the spring at Kansas, which offered some optimism after a strong run at Darlington. But LaJoie was collected in a crash on a restart and finished 33rd.
30Harrison Burton
Harrison Burton was also eliminated in the very same crash that took out LaJoie. It was Burton's sixth DNF of the season, just one off of the seven that his father had in his rookie season of 1994.