Kyle Busch leads way-too-early 2019 NASCAR Power Rankings

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As the checkered flag fell over Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday evening, NASCAR Cup series teams paused to for a moment, thought "what a year" ... and then immediately started thinking about 2019. The same goes for us.

Forget where the racers just finished. Where do we think they will stand when the Homestead finale is completed one year from now?

Here are the way-too-early 2019 NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch

2018 finish: 4th

As long as NASCAR keeps the all-or-nothing Homestead championship format, Shrub will be the favorite to win it all. Or at least one of the favorites. This year he jumped to 11th on the all-time wins list. And he's only 33.

2. Kevin Harvick

2018 finish: 3rd

CTL+C the first two sentences we wrote for Busch and plug those in here too. Happy also moved up the all-time wins chart, sitting 17th with 45, and Harvick seems to be a shoo-in to join NASCAR's exclusive 50-win club. He also seems to be a shoo-in to continue reveling in the irony of his nickname.

3. Chase Elliott

2018 finish: 6th

The Prince of the Pool Room finally got that elusive first Cup win. Then he won again. And again. And he did all that during a year when Hendrick Motorsports sometimes looked as if it were running Chevy Citations. Surely it won't start 2019 as lost as it did this year, right?

4. Joey Logano

2018 finish: 1st

Shoutout to when everyone was still trying to convince me he was overrated and washed up, like, four years ago. If the champ wants to be the champ again, he'll have to figure out how to solve his team's sporadic ways. Then again, those sporadic ways also just won him the Cup.

5. Martin Truex Jr.

2018 finish: 2nd

Truex, Cole Pearn & Co. will be just fine at Joe Gibbs Racing, but NASCAR history tells us that big-time drivers making big-time moves to big-time teams usually have to endure some big-time growing pains.

6. Brad Keselowski

2018 finish: 8th

If Logano's season was sporadic, then his teammate's year was downright spastic, with multiple hot streaks of two or three races punctuated by nine finishes of 23rd or worse. He already has warned about the challenge of Ford teams breaking in the new '19 Mustangs.

7. Ryan Blaney

2018 finish: 10th

Entering his fourth season in Cup, Mr. Baritone also is seeking consistency. In 2018, every time he appeared on the cusp of providing some excitement, his year would become bogged down.

8. Jimmie Johnson

2018 finish: 14th

New sponsor, new crew chief, new face ... OK, old face. OK, not old face, but older face with a new look. OK, not a new look. It's actually his old look; it's just he's older but looks younger now that he shaved. Might he race with some newfound youthful enthusiasm?

9. Clint Bowyer

2018 finish: 12th

The bad news? Despite winning twice and making the postseason field, he faded fast because of 10 finishes of 20th or worse. The good news? He finally had a season that made us remember he still exists.

10. Denny Hamlin

2018 finish: 11th

The first Christmas presents started arriving at my house this week, and the FedEx guy who delivered one of them said he thinks Denny will win four races and be back in the mix at Homestead next year. But he also handed me a package for my next-door neighbor, so ...

11. Alex Bowman

2018: 16th

No, he didn't win a race. Then again, neither did the guy who drove this car in 2017. He also didn't win NASCAR Rookie of the Year. Because he wasn't a rookie, even though everyone kept trying to say he was.

12. Aric Almirola

2018 finish: 5th

Does it feel kind of harsh dropping him this far? Yes. He finished the year with a win and six straight top-11 finishes. But nothing about his résumé says we should be convinced he can run like that consistently. Does it feel kind of harsh typing that sentence? Yes.

13. Kyle Larson

2018 finish: 9th

In 2017, he won four times and was considered one of the big three. In 2018, he went oh-fer and barely cracked the big 10. Can Ganassi Racing ever figure out how to get up front and stay there?

14. Kurt Busch

2018 finish: 7th

But more importantly, can Ganassi Racing figure out how to make a 2019 driver announcement before 2019 gets here?

15. Erik Jones

2018 finish: 15th

Not only did he win a race, but he also won a pole and earned nine top-5 finishes, all in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing. Oh, and his team didn't shut down at season's end like his old team did. So, that was good.

16. Austin Dillon

2018 finish: 13th

The Daytona 500 champion will be busy this offseason figuring out how to defend that title, how to get his Pop-Pop's race team turned around and how to program the DVR to watch his wife's new TV show.