Playoff Points: Dover I Edition

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Following each regular season points race, Kickin’ the Tires takes a deep look at the current playoff grids for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, evaluating each team’s postseason odds and highlighting those that made steps in the right direction, as well as those who dug themselves into a hole. 

Track: Dover International Speedway

Event: AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Stage Winner(s): Martin Truex, Jr. (Both Stages)

Who Won Big

  • Jimmie Johnson: Starting at the back of the field? No problem. Seven-time and Chad Knaus did what they do better than anyone on Sunday, winning at Dover for a record 11th time. It was also their series-best third victory of the year, raising Johnson to second in playoff points behind another big winner…
  • Martin Truex, Jr: …This guy. Truex and Furniture Row Racing didn’t claim a race win, but they did earn their seventh and eighth stage wins – an impressive feat that kept Truex atop the playoff points standings with 18 points.
  • Matt Kenseth: It wasn’t a banner day for Kenseth’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team, but their 12th-place run, paired with a poor showing for Ryan Blaney, proved enough to elevate the Wisconsinite into the current playoff grid.

 Who Hurt Their Odds:

Ryan Blaney continues to drop in the Cup Series standings. (Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)

  • Joey Logano: Remember that encumbered finish penalty that cost Logano points and the playoff-clinching benefits of a race win? It’s beginning to prove worse than expected at the time. Logano’s 25th-place run at Dover continued a free fall on the standings that’s seen the Team Penske pilot fall within 28 points of the playoff cutoff.
  • Trevor Bayne: Back-to-back subpar showings (21st at Dover) and Austin Dillon’s playoff-altering victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway have dropped Bayne’s small playoff gap into a 40-point hole. His Roush Fenway Racing team can still overcome the deficit, but they can’t afford poor runs moving forward.
  • Ryan Blaney: The Wood Brothers Racing shoe dropped in the standings again due to another axle issue that relegated the sophomore to a 32nd-place result. Suddenly Blaney finds himself on the wrong side of the playoff bubble, with a strong Kenseth to pursue.

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins Points Ahead/Behind Cutoff
6 Jimmie Johnson 3 94
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 2 225
7 Brad Keselowski 2 90
2 Kyle Larson 1 216
14 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 1 -21
15 Ryan Newman 1 -21
16 Kurt Busch 1 -611
21 Austin Dillon 0 -57
3 Kevin Harvick 0 109
4 Kyle Busch 0 96
5 Jamie McMurray 0 95
8 Chase Elliott 0 78
9 Denny Hamlin 0 41
10 Clint Bowyer 0 29
11 Joey Logano 0 28
12 Matt Kenseth 0 7
Playoff Cutoff
13 Ryan Blaney 0 -7
17 Trevor Bayne 0 -40
18 Erik Jones 0 -44
19 Daniel Suarez 0 -49
20 Kasey Kahne 0 -57
22 Ty Dillon 0 -99
23 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 0 -99
24 Paul Menard 0 -126
25 Aric Almirola 0 -139
26 Chris Buescher 0 -141
27 Michael McDowell 0 -154
28 A.J. Allmendinger 0 -159
29 David Ragan 0 -162
30 Cole Whitt/Danica Patrick 0 -173
* One or more wins are encumbered

Where They Stand

(All But) Locked In

  • Martin Truex, Jr., Brad Keselowski,  Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon.
    • Race Winners
  • Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott

Safe (For Now)

More Work to Do

  • Denny Hamlin
    • Not a bad day for Hamlin, but his 41-point gap has him one poor race away from potentially falling to the wrong side of the bubble.

On the Bubble

  • Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth
    • Bowyer and Logano fall within reach of the bubble after finishes of 31st and 25th, respectively.
    • Kenseth enters the playoff grid for the first time in months, hopping past Ryan Blaney for the final position in the grid.

Within Reach 

  • Ryan Blaney, Trevor Bayne, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne
    • Blaney’s slow descent in the standings continues. Wood Brothers Racing now finds themselves just outside of the playoff field despite sitting 13th in the standings due to this year’s surprise winners.
    • At 57 points back, Kahne’s playoff hopes are slowly fading to a must-win proposition..

Likely Need to Win

  • Ty Dillon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher, Michael McDowell,  A.J. Allmendinger, David Ragan, Cole Whitt, Danica Patrick.
    • Patrick re-enters the fold after scoring her first top 10 in two years. She still has a mountain to climb, but there is at least a glimmer of hope.

Playoff Points

Martin Truex, Jr. continues to stage himself for playoff success. (Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)

Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 18 (+2)
2 Jimmie Johnson 15 (+5)
3 Brad Keselowski 12
4 Kyle Larson 7
5 (tie) Ryan Newman 5
5 (tie) Kurt Busch 5
5 (tie) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 5
5 (tie) Austin Dillon 5
9 (tie) Kevin Harvick 3
9 (tie) Ryan Blaney 3
9 (tie) Kyle Busch 3
12 (tie) Chase Elliott 2
12 (tie) Denny Hamlin 2
14 (tie) Joey Logano 1
14 (tie) Matt Kenseth 1

Stage Points

Stage 1 Stage 2
Pos. Driver Points Pos. Driver Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 10 (+1 Playoff) 1 Martin Truex, Jr. 10 (+1 Playoff)
2 Kyle Larson 9 2 Jimmie Johnson 9
3 Kevin Harvick 8 3 Matt Kenseth 8
4 Matt Kenseth 7 4 Kyle Busch 7
5 Jimmie Johnson 6 5 Kyle Larson 6
6 Kasey Kahne 5 6 Kevin Harvick 5
7 Ryan Blaney 4 7 Chase Elliott 4
8 Erik Jones 3 8 Ryan Blaney 3
9 Kyle Busch 2 9 Erik Jones 2
10 Daniel Suarez 1 10 Kasey Kahne 1

Season Totals

RANK DRIVER TEAM  STAGE POINTS  STAGE WINS
1. Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing 177 8
2. Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 159 2
3. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 114 3
4. Brad Keselowski Team Penske 113 2
5. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 111 3
6. Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing 100 3
7. Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 94 2
8. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 93 0
9. Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing 82 0
10. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 68 2
11. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing 65 1
12. Joey Logano Team Penske 64 1
13. Erik Jones Furniture Row Racing 51 0
t-14. Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing 31 0
t-14. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing 31 0
16. Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing 28 0
17. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports 21 0
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing 17 0
19. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports 16 0
20. Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 12 0
21. Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing 11 0
22. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing 10 0
23. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing 7 0
t-24. Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing 4 0
t-24. Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing 4 0
26. Ty Dillon Germain Racing 2 0

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