New Names Showing Up Near The Top Of NASCAR Standings

There are a number of new names topping the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings heading into the third race of the season the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sixteen different drivers have earned a top-10 finish to date and only Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson have scored top 10s in the opening two races.

For several drivers, this is a career best start to their season. Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher, for example, was third in the season-opening Daytona 500 and 14th at Las Vegas resulting in an eighth-place position in the NASCAR Cup Series points – his highest ever after two races.

Similarly, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won the pole position for the Daytona 500 and finished 20th in the race, also finished third at Las Vegas last Sunday earning a fifth place ranking in the series standings – only 19 points behind championship leader Ryan Blaney.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the famed No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, is ranked 12th in the Cup Series points, thanks to runs of 15th at Daytona and sixth at Las Vegas. This is his highest ever points position after two races.

Austin Dillon, whose Richard Childress Racing team will mark its 3,000th start this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, is ranked seventh in the standings, only 22 points off the leader Ryan Blaney. It’s the best the former Daytona 500 winner has ever been ranked after two races – thanks to a 12th-place finish in this year’s Daytona 500 followed by a fourth-place effort last Sunday. He is the defending pole-winner at Auto Club and finished 10th in last year’s race.

Another name getting a lot of attention this week is last Sunday’s Las Vegas runner-up Matt DiBenedetto. The California native equaled his career-best finish at Vegas and the driver of the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford is tied with fellow Californian Jimmie Johnson and Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin for ninth place in the series standings – a career best mark for DiBenedetto.

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