Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

About a month ago in this column, I wisecracked about how instead of "Texas Terry" Labonte, the pre-eminent Texan at NASCAR's highest level is now Chris Buescher "from Prosper, Texas, which has a population of about 30,000." It was a playful twist on Rick Allen's call of Buescher's win at Richmond last year, but it shouldn't be confused with anything suggesting that Buescher isn't as tough a Texan as The Iceman and two-time Cup Series champion was during his heyday.

While he hadn't had cars consistently capable of winning until up to this point in his career, Buescher proved long ago he had the talent to win more than his fair share of races in Cup. Had the past two races played out differently, we could be talking about him having his sixth or even his seventh Cup victory. And after an ill-advised slidejob attempt by Tyler Reddick compounded Buescher's frustration over losing in the closest finish in Cup Series history at Kansas, he also showed that he's not the sort of driver you can get away with messing with.

While Buescher ended up not getting the checkered flag at Kansas, and a 30th-place finish at Darlington didn't give him the credit he deserved for his performance, the CBS Sports NASCAR Power Rankings have given Buescher a considerable bump for his recent outings. Buescher moves all the way up to third this week, behind only Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott, the latter two of whom capitalized on Kyle Larson's late-race troubles.

Here's a look at CBS Sports' updated NASCAR Power Rankings following Darlington:

1Denny Hamlin
By leading one lap at Darlington, Denny Hamlin has now led 17 consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races, tying Kyle Busch for the longest such streak of any active Cup driver. If he leads one lap during the Coke 600 in two weeks, the current record will be all his.
2Chase Elliott
The sort of race Chase Elliott had at Darlington isn't the kind that gets a spotlight put on it, but remember the Goodyear 400 if Elliott goes deep in the playoffs this year: The No. 9 car was struggling in midpack and almost went a lap down at one point, but Elliott's team was able to get it to the point where their driver could bring it all the way to 12th at the finish.
3Chris Buescher
To see Chris Buescher actually mad enough at another driver to put hands on them made me think back to the man who once drove the No. 17 for RFK. Matt Kenseth wasn't the sort of driver who got mad that often, but when he did, woe to whoever (Keselowski, Brad; Logano, Joey) made him angry.
4Kyle Larson
If there was ever a "No, not like that" moment, it was watching Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 team finally do a Terry Labonte Kellogg's Corn Flakes throwback only to see it spin and crash like it did at Bristol back in 1999. This time, it wasn't The Intimidator rattling Terry's cage but a cut tire that sent what was the Best In Class throwback into the wall and put Kyle Larson out of the race.
5Tyler Reddick
Tyler Reddick was very wise to try and deescalate the situation between him and Chris Buescher. Reddick is a mismatch in fights with most drivers at 5-foot-5 and 125 pounds, but he's especially so up against Buescher, who's far larger than him.
6Noah Gragson
It wasn't easy as he had to start shotgun on the field in 36th, but Noah Gragson was able to put in yet another good day at the racetrack and finish 14th at Darlington. He should be a favorite in the All-Star Open, where he has a chance to advance to the All-Star Race for the second year in a row.
7Brad Keselowski
With his winless streak now a thing of the past, Brad Keselowski can get back to building his winning legacy in NASCAR. His next victory will move him into a tie for 23rd on the all-time wins list with 1970 Cup champion Bobby Isaac.
8Alex Bowman
One year after most of his competitors got their first crack at the once-abandoned speedway, Alex Bowman will finally get to make his North Wilkesboro debut on All-Star weekend. An injured Bowman had to watch last year as Josh Berry drove his No. 48 to victory in the All-Star Open.
9Martin Truex Jr.
It's hard to believe Martin Truex Jr. has yet to win the All-Star Race in his decorated Cup career. His best finish to date is 2nd in 2010, but he did win the Open to advance to the All-Star Race back in 2007 after a tight battle with Johnny Sauter.
10William Byron--Had Ryan Blaney chosen to completely clean out William Byron under caution at Darlington, it wouldn't be the first time that's happened to him. Back in the 2016 Snowball Derby at the late model level, an incensed Stephen Nasse drove straight into Byron and destroyed his car after he spun Nasse out late in the race.
11Ross Chastain
I'm honestly surprised Ross Chastain (to my knowledge) had a voice the rest of the weekend after winning the Truck Series race at Darlington on Friday night. He hooted and hollered so much afterward you would've thought he'd just won either the Cup championship or the lottery.
12Ty Gibbs
As we enter All-Star Weekend, keep in mind that a driver who has yet to score his first Cup win has won the All-Star Race on two occasions. Michael Waltrip did it in 1996, and then Ryan Newman did it in 2002. Both races took place before Ty Gibbs was even born.
13Chase Briscoe
A more complete weekend this time for Chase Briscoe and his team: After starting 13th, Briscoe earned a season-best fifth-place finish at Darlington for his first top five since last fall at Martinsville.
14Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace took an immediate shine to North Wilkesboro last year, as he battled Kyle Larson for the win in the Truck Series race before running second to him in the All-Star Race. We'll see if North Wilkesboro's repave affects the feel Wallace seemed to have for the place.
15Josh Berry
You have to like Josh Berry's chances of at least making some noise on All-Star weekend. He's the defending winner of the Open and he's coming off his best run so far this season, a third-place finish at Darlington.
16Todd Gilliland
Better performance on pit road is going to be a sticking point for Todd Gilliland's crew. Gilliland may have finished 15th at Darlington, but his car was faster than where it finished and was capable of a top 10 had he not continually lost spots in the pits.
17Michael McDowell
For only the third time in his career, Michael McDowell will compete in the NASCAR All-Star Race thanks to his win last year at Indianapolis. McDowell's best finish in two tries so far is a 12th back in 2021.
18Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch's lone All-Star Race win came back in 2017, the last time they tried an Option Tire as an experiment in alternative Goodyear compounds. That night it didn't have the intended effect and track position still trumped all -- we'll see if the option tires work better this time around.
19Austin Cindric--Give a call to Austin Cindric: A 20th-place finish at Darlington isn't the best result on paper, but he was actually the highest finishing car out of Team Penske.
20Ryan Blaney
Assuming Ryan Blaney is still as hot under the collar Sunday as he was after getting wrecked out at Darlington, he has a natural opportunity to get even with William Byron. Short tracks like North Wilkesboro are, after all, an ideal place for settling scores.
21Christopher Bell
Christopher Bell earned a finish at Darlington that was just ... okay? Strangely, a 13th-place run marked Bell's first finish this season between 11th and 15th.
22Justin Haley
Running the way he did at Darlington was surely what Rick Ware Racing envisioned when they hired Justin Haley to drive for them this year. Haley had a fast car, took advantage of it, and gave RWR one of its best performances in team history in ninth.
23Joey Logano
We saw some glimpses of Joey Logano's championship form at Darlington when he made his way into the top five, but he couldn't sustain it and wound up finishing 21st. At the very least, a fourth-place finish in Stage 2 gave Logano some points that could come in handy later.
24Corey LaJoie
Bowman Gray Stadium, where Corey LaJoie picked up his first win in the old K&N Pro East Series back in 2012, has entered the picture of 2025 schedule rumors as a potential spot for the Busch Clash. Driving a throwback to the car he won Bowman Gray with, LaJoie finished 16th at Darlington.
25Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has used the All-Star Open to advance to the All-Star Race twice in his Cup career. He won't have to this year, as his 2023 Daytona 500 win guarantees him a spot in the All-Star Race field.
26Ryan Preece
Ryan Preece has apparently now been included in Stewart-Haas Racing's study group, and he was also a part of what was a strong day for the company as a whole at Darlington. Preece finished 17th, putting all four of SHR's cars in the top 20.
27Carson Hocevar
If I had to take an educated guess, the All-Star Fan Vote is likely going to come down to being between Carson Hocevar and Justin Haley. Both have had the most creative voting campaigns by far.
28Daniel Suarez--Darlington marked another struggle of a day for Daniel Suarez and his team, as they would wind up finishing 24th. A trip back to North Wilkesboro will be quite welcome, as Suarez won the pole for last year's All-Star Race and finished seventh.
29Daniel Hemric
It's been a long while, but Daniel Hemric will have a shot at redemption in his first All-Star Open appearance in five years. Hemric won the pole for the Open back in 2019, but he would end up crashing out and missing a chance to put what was a fast car in the All-Star Race.
30Kaz Grala
Kaz Grala earns his way into this week's power rankings by virtue of an 18th-place finish at Darlington. Points for style too, as he did it in what was a terrific 1969 Parnelli Jones throwback.