I want to start off by saying, this is probably the biggest shift in Power Rankings you will see all season. Not everyone participated in the pre season races, so until we unloaded at Auto Club, there was no accurate way to tell who had what in the arsenal. I would also like to apologize for the shade thrown at Brandon Banks for leaving him off the initial list. He showed me why that was a mistake this week. Anyways, here is your TJ's Team Series Power Rankings after the Duels and Week 1 race at Auto Club.
1. Lawson Peel - No Change There were some concerns about the transition away from the Next Gen car surrounding Lawson Peel. Especially after a poor showing during the Duels, it seemed like Peel would struggle to come to terms with the changes made for Season 6. With all the questions swirling around, how did Lawson respond? By charging from 32nd on the grid to win his 24th career 4WR race, putting him in sole possession of the all time wins record. 2. TJ Burske - Last Week: UNRANKED
Burske made his return to 4 Wide known as early as humanly possible, ripping off wins in both duel races. This set him up on the pole for the first points scoring race, and he looked poised for the trifecta until a pit road speeding penalty took him out of contention at halfway. Without that mistake, it would be hard to bet against the 94 car. Eyes should remain on the Monster Energy Chevrolet in the upcoming weeks as he challenges Peel for the top spot.
3. AJ Green - Last Week: 6
If it wasn't for Burske's dominance in the Duels, AJ would find himself higher on this list. He was the dominant car on Wednesday, and was on his way towards an opening win. That was until a slew of late cautions took the 48 out of contention. Although he didn't get the result he wanted, AJ solidified himself as one of the top contenders early on.
4. Eric Schaffer - Last Week: 9
Last time during the Power Rankings I questioned the ability of Eric Schaffer in terms of being able to keep the car clean. Well, he did just that. Eric ran up front for the majority of the race, and only fell outside of the top 10 after a speeding penalty. Even with the penalty, Schaffer was able to work his way back up to a P3 finish, which capped off an impressive drive back up from the tail end of the field.
5. Ethan Fonseca Moreno* - Last Week: UNRANKED
The rookie driver out of the Bacallao-Bueno Racing stable managed a 5th place and 19th place run in the Duels, leading to a 7th place starting spot for the 125 lapper on Wednesday. Sporting a paint paying tribute to team owner Kenneth Bueno, Ethan managed to average a top 5 running position through the entirety of the race. He capped it off with a 4th place finish, and was the highest running rookie in the field.
6. Daniel Michel - Last Week: UNRANKED
"The California Kid" started P6 on Wednesday. Daniel showed he knew the ins and outs of his hometown track, having an average running position of 6th throughout the race. I personally started right behind Michel, and he very quickly disappeared from my field of view. The late race mayhem and some pit strategy gave Michel a chance at the end of the race, and he managed to finish a close 2nd to teammate Lawson Peel.
7. Mikey Neal* - Last Week: UNRANKED
The second rookie to crack the list, Neal gave us a sneak peak of what he was capable of during the playoffs last season. He stayed red hot to start off Season 6 using pit strategy and tire saving strategies to consistently run in the top 10. He gave up track position for tires towards the end, and managed to climb back up for a P13 finish, but that isn't an accurate representation of what Neal is capable of.
8. Brandon Banks - Last Week: UNRANKED
It was a crime punishable by public humiliation for leaving Banksy off the list last week. He came into this week with a chip on his shoulder, and he showed it. The Reese's machine made an early charge to the top 10, and skated away with the rest of the top 8 drivers before the first pit cycle. Like Neal, he gave up a top 10 spot for tires towards the end of the race, and if it wasn't for a late block thrown by myself, he would've climbed back into the top 10. Instead, he settles for a P11 finish, but this is a driver that will constantly be battling for top 5's.
9. Joe Sanchez - Last Week: 7
Sanchez was a top 5 car for the entire night. He made easy work of all of the competition to climb from a 17th place start. He had a very uneventful night, quietly lurking right behind the leaders. It wasn't until the cautions started falling with 20 to go that the aggression turned up, and a look to the middle of a three wide battle with Craig Lautenslager and AJ Green that Sanchez's night turned upside down. Another driver who had a great run cut short, Sanchez will be back, and he will win multiple races this season.
10. Adam Aleshire - Last Week: UNRANKED
The ASHOC Supra started the race with a different approach than every other driver. As drivers were running in an orderly fashion at the bottom of the track, you could see the bright red 91 car ripping the boards, climbing his was from 12th and into the top 5. It seemed as though this move would cost him in terms of tires for the long run, but he managed to hold on just long enough to not drop out of the top 10. If it wasn't for the caution involving Joe Sanchez, Aleshire would've been battling for the win.
FIRST 5 OUT:
#53 Kevin Delia
#6 Michael Newbraugh
#28 Jayden Porter
#14 Jeff Noe
#36 Tyler Murray
DRIVERS WHO DROPPED OUT: Austin Reedy - P37 finish
Colin Forrester - DNS
Jayden Porter - P14 finish
Kyle Benson - P35 finish
Craig Lautenslager - P28 finish
Patrick Thompson* - P16 finish