NASCAR Power Rankings: Johnny Sauter is carrying the banner for the Truck and Xfinity Series

FORT WORTH, Texas — Johnny Sauter continued his uncanny mastery of Texas Motor Speedway Friday night, holding off Stewart Friesen on a three-lap shootout to win the 22nd annual PPG 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. The series points leader, Sauter posted his fifth career win on the 1.5-mile oval and fourth in eight …

With a Cup Series off-weekend in the rearview mirror, it’s time again to take a look at the drivers who aren’t in NASCAR’s top series. Instead of ranking NASCAR’s Nos. 2 and 3 series separately, let’s combine them into one set of rankings. It’s our internet world, you’re just reading it. 

1. Johnny Sauter (Trucks): Sauter is the only driver in each of NASCAR’s two lower series to have more than two wins at this point in the season. Sauter’s won at Daytona, Dover, Charlotte and Texas and has proven to be the man to beat on intermediate tracks so far in 2018. That bodes well for his chances at a second championship.

2. Justin Allgaier (Xfinity): Allgaier has two wins including his victory on Sunday at Iowa Speedway. That’s the only race that counts for the playoffs after his Dover victory was taken away because of an inspection failure. We’re still considering that win a win for Power Rankings purposes and it’s hard to put drivers ahead of him in the points standings ahead of him in these rankings.

3. Brett Moffitt (Trucks): Moffitt’s proving that he deserves a full-time ride above the Truck Series. Moffitt won his second race of the season Saturday night at Iowa and is the only driver outside of Sauter with multiple wins in the Truck Series. And he’s won both those races driving for a single-truck team in Hattori Racing Enterprises that missed the Truck playoffs a year ago. If Hattori has enough sponsorship to get Moffitt through the entire season he should be a threat for the title at Homestead.

4. Noah Gragson (Trucks): You have to give Gragson credit for attempting a last-ditch move for the win on Moffitt in Turns 3 and 4 on Saturday night. It didn’t work but it was probably his only hope. Gragson is one of the more unique personalities in the Truck Series garage and is driving for the best team in the series.

5. Elliott Sadler (Xfinity): So when is Sadler going to win a race again? He leads the points standings and has the most top-10 finishes of any driver in the Xfinity Series but hasn’t won a race since 2016 — a stretch of 53 races. Sadler’s consistency is remarkable, but it’s hard not to wonder how many wins he should have given the quality of JR Motorsports equipment he’s driving. That Daytona race looks closer and closer with each passing week.

6. Christopher Bell (Xfinity): Bell has one win in 2018 and was the only driver capable of consistently challenging Allgaier at Iowa. He started at the back of the field because of pre-qualifying inspection problems and got to the front fairly quickly. But he couldn’t get the inside line to work on Allgaier and clear him when he had opportunities or catch Allgaier over the final laps.

7. Daniel Hemric (Xfinity): Hemric is probably the best driver in NASCAR’s Nos. 2 and 3 series without a win. Yeah, we just chastised Sadler for being consistent and not winning, but comparing a 44-year-old veteran to a 27-year-old in his fourth full season of NASCAR competition isn’t exactly a direct one. You can also argue that — outside of Daytona, where Sadler was inches from a win — Hemric is closer to winning a race than Sadler is.

8. Cole Custer (Xfinity): Custer has started first three times so far in 2018 but hasn’t turned those pole positions into wins. He should get a win or two at some point this season. And probably needs to if we want to seriously consider him as a Cup Series option at Stewart-Haas Racing sooner rather than later.

9. Tyler Reddick (Xfinity): Reddick has been cranking out the top-10 finishes since his win at Daytona in the first week of the season. But he hasn’t come close to winning. His best finish since that Daytona win is a fifth and he’s led 34 laps.

10. Stewart Friesen (Trucks): Friesen has been the surprise of the Truck Series season so far. He hasn’t won a race but he’s had fast trucks at various types of tracks. He won the second stage of Saturday night’s race but got caught in a crash early in stage 3 after pit strategy calls shuffled him back in the field.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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