Caruth, Vargas Climb Up Monday Night Racing Power Rankings
In Formula One, there is Max Verstappen versus Lewis Hamilton. In the Monday Night Racing Pro Series presented by Rowdy Energy, there is David Schildhouse versus Collin Fern. The two drivers battle vigorously each week and have proven themselves as the top-two championship contenders.
Both drivers have found victory lane this season, but after the checkered flag flew in the Sim Seats 125 at Phoenix Raceway, Schildhouse became the first two-time winner of the season. With just two weeks left in the regular season, here is how the Power Rankings look heading into Michigan:
- David Schildhouse/ +1
Two wins in six races for driver No. 20 sets Schildhouse apart from his competition. He led 55 laps Monday night in a close-to-perfect night. Just six points back from the points lead, a regular season championship is in reach for Schildhouse.
- Collin Fern/ -1
Though Fern led just one lap in the Sim Seats 125, his presence was known. The Brandonbilt Motorsports driver showed really good speed on the short-runs but could never carry the speed over on the rare long-run. With 36 laps to go, Fern was hit with an end-of-line penalty but was able to fight his way back through the field to finish fourth.
- Rajah Caruth/ +3
Caruth led 49 laps Monday, but a spin with 36 laps to go ended up resulting in a 32nd place finish. The ARCA Menards Series driver is emerging as a third championship favorite and will no doubt give the field a run for their money each week. Caruth is on the rise and will find victory lane before the season is over.
- Gary Sexton/ -1
After a dominant performance last week went south, Gary Sexton bounced back for a top-ten finish. Sexton, who once was a race favorite each week, has slowly faded as the season has progressed. He is 14 points out of the playoff picture currently, but two clean runs in the two remaining regular season races could do him wonders.
- Will Rodgers/ -1
Will Rodgers went into this week as the points leader and left 11 points behind the new leader, Collin Fern. Rodgers was rewarded a 21st place finish after the action packed race that included him being involved in two incidents: one in turn one on the first lap and another wreck on lap 49. Despite the incidents, Rodgers did not take the car to the virtual garage and fought back to salvage a decent finish.
- Kyle Busch/ -2
“Rowdy” Busch took home an 18th place finish in MNR’s visit to the virtual Phoenix Raceway. But, his finish on Monday is not indicative of the season the NASCAR Cup Series driver is putting together. He has finished inside the top-two three times thus far and I expect more finishes of that kind in the next few weeks.
- Ryan Vargas/ +2
Ryan Vargas, fresh off his Knoxville win a week ago, looked to repeat on Monday night but came up just short. Vargas is arguably having his best Monday Night Racing season ever and with a postseason spot already secure, it’s all about stacking playoff points now. Vargas is riding a hot streak. In the last three races, Vargas has failed to finish outside the top-three and if that trend continues, he could be dangerous
- DJ Cummings/ –
After taking a week off from MNR competition last week, Cummings did not get the finish he wanted. 31st place was where Cummings ended up after 125 laps. He is only ten points below the playoff bubble and the two remaining regular season races fit his driving style.
- Gabe Wood/ +2
After being involved in three wrecks in the first three cautions, Gabe Wood rebounded for a third-place finish. Although he finished in the top-five, he still sits 27 points below the playoff cutline. At this point, it’s a must-win for Wood if he wants the chase the championship.
- Garrett Smithley/ +2
You know what they say; when in Hawaii, find a sim rig to race on, right? Well, not really, but that’s what Garrett Smithley had in mind on his trip. Smithley found a Logitech wheel and pedal set at a local gamestop to run Monday night’s event. In his very temporary setup, he was able to run competitively until he was taken out with 31 laps to go. His 22nd place finish is not representative of how fast Smithley was as he looks to make a Playoff push.
- Max Kennon/ +3
The TMK Motorsports driver has popped his head in and out of the Power Rankings throughout the season, but this time, he could be here for good. Kennon had a great night on Monday with his third-place performance; his best of the season. The pilot of the No. 21 is picking up momentum at just the right time, I think he can keep it alive this coming week.
- Preston Pardus/ -5
Preston Pardus decided to not make the trip out to the virtual Phoenix Raceway on Monday night and used his one and only drop race of the season. Pardus sits in sixth in the championship standings; sitting pretty with just two races left in the regular season.
- Adam Cabot/ -4
Much like Pardus, Adam Cabot decided to use this week as a drop race as well. Cabot, who has been so competitive on the asphalt ovals, has two races left to secure one of the ten Playoff spots.
- Matt Stallknecht/ N/A
Matt Stallknecht makes his way into the Power Rankings fresh off of a seventh place finish at Phoenix Raceway. He has been quiet all season, but sits in the ninth position in the championship standings. His Crypto Autosport teammate, Ford Martin, is on the outside looking in. The two drivers are separated by one point as they both battle for the last spot in the MNR playoffs and the Power Rankings.
- Steven Ellis/ -2
The sleeper, Steven Ellis, finished 27th this week after getting involved in an incident on lap 42. Despite the not-so-great finish, Ellis is still tied for sixth in the championship standings, 13 points above the cutline. Consistency will be key for the Canadian driver if he hopes to etch his name in the playoff grid.
Dropped Out: Robby Lyons