NASCAR has another new points leader after Phoenix

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

For the second time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, the standings are led by a driver who had never previously led them.

Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron secured his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series victory on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway, passing teammate Kyle Larson following a late race restart.

Byron, who is the only driver with two wins through four races so far this season, also won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, when he also held off Larson following a late restart.

But it is their Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Alex Bowman, who has risen to the top of the point standings for the first time in his Cup Series career.

While he hasn’t yet found victory lane this year, which he did within the first three races in both the 2020 and 2022 seasons, Bowman is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. He owns a series-best average finish of 6.25 and his worst finish is ninth place.

No other driver has started the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season with four straight top 10 finishes.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who owns the second best worst finish of the season (behind Bowman) of 12th place, sits in second in the standings. While none of his teammates are higher than 25th, Harvick’s consistency has him sitting only three points behind the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet.

Bowman’s rise to the top marks the second time in 2023 that a driver who had never previously led the standings has taken the lead. Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain took the lead after the season’s second race at Auto Club Speedway and held on after the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

A 24th place finish this past Sunday afternoon dropped him to third, but he only sits six points behind Bowman and three behind Harvick.

Byron, who is technically the only driver to clinch a playoff spot thus far, sits in fourth place, 10 points behind Bowman, with Larson in a fifth place tie with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, seven points behind Byron.

The season’s other two race winners are a bit further back. JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hasn’t finished higher than 12th place since his season-opening Daytona 500 victory and sits in 15th, while Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch, who won at Auto Club Speedway, sits in ninth.

The only other driver to lead the standings this year is Team Penske’s Joey Logano, who led after his second place finish in the season opener. A relatively lackluster run since has dropped him to 12th.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Who will lead the standings after the season’s fifth race at Atlanta Motor Speedway? Tune in to Fox at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 19 for the live broadcast of the Ambetter Health 400. If you haven’t yet started a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!