Playoff Points: Pocono I Edition

Matthew T. Thacker/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: Pocono Raceway

Event: Axalta Presents the Pocono 400

Race Winner: Ryan Blaney

Stage Winner(s): Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson

Who Won Big

  • Ryan Blaney:  The Wood Brothers Racing sophomore spent much of the last two months on the wrong side of this piece, dropping in the standings after a litany of issues. But now it doesn’t matter. One strong drive from Blaney later, the Wood Brothers are back in victory lane, and all-but guaranteed their first playoff berth.
  • The Kyle Duo: Neither driver managed to claim the victory, but both Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson managed stage victories on the day, adding to their playoff totals. Larson also closed the gap to points leader Martin Truex, Jr. down to just one point.
  • Kevin Harvick: He fell short of a victory, but Harvick’s 51 points earned Sunday were the most of anyone in the field. Considering how close he came to a blown motor, the Californian has to be content to leave Pocono with a 121-point edge on the playoff bubble.

 Who Hurt Their Odds:

  • Jamie McMurray: Jimmie Johnson’s crash stole the spotlight, but it was McMurray’s fiery spill moments later that had the bigger effect on the postseason picture. The Chip Ganassi Racing veteran’s 37th-place finish dropped him to within 59 points of the playoff bubble.
  • Kasey Kahne: It may have setup the exciting finish, but Kahne’s crash at Pocono was devastating for his playoff hopes. The Enumclaw, Washington native now sits 88 points out of the postseason field, in dire need of a victory or a strong summer surge.
  • Joey Logano: An ugly 23rd-place run leaves Logano hanging on to his postseason hopes by the slimmest of margins. It may take another, unencumbered win for the two-time Championship 4 participant to have a shot at repeating his feat.

Joey Logano’s fallen to the playoff bubble. (Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins Points Ahead of/Behind Cutoff
7 Jimmie Johnson 3 62
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 2 225
7 Brad Keselowski 2 95
2 Kyle Larson 1 224
12 Ryan Blaney 1 1
14 Kurt Busch 1 -28
15 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 1 -34
17 Ryan Newman 1 -37
20 Austin Dillon 0 -72
3 Kevin Harvick 0 121
4 Kyle Busch 0 104
6 Chase Elliott 0 79
8 Jamie McMurray 0 59
9 Denny Hamlin 0 27
10 Clint Bowyer 0 10
11 Joey Logano 1* 3
Playoff Cutoff
13 Matt Kenseth 0 -3
16 Erik Jones 0 -40
18 Trevor Bayne 0 -59
19 Daniel Suarez 0 -62
20 Kasey Kahne 0 -88
22 Ty Dillon 0 -115
23 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 0 -133
24 Paul Menard 0 -144
25 Chris Buescher 0 -158
26 Aric Almirola 0 -174
27 Michael McDowell 0 -176
28 A.J. Allmendinger 0 -179
29 David Ragan 0 -185
30 Danica Patrick 0 -187
* One or more wins are encumbered

Where They Stand

(All But) Locked In

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

Safe (For Now)

More Work to Do

  • Denny Hamlin

On the Bubble

  • Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano
    • Logano drops to just three points above the cutoff. His encumbered win and subsequent penalty could be the difference in his playoff hopes down the stretch.

Within Reach 

  • Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, Trevor Bayne, Daniel Suarez
    • Kenseth continues to rise, but new winners make his path increasingly steep.
    • Jones’ top five helps him creep back into the playoff conversation.

Likely Need to Win

At this stage, it’ll likely take a victory for Kasey Kahne to make the playoffs (Photo: Matthew T. Thacker/NKP)

  • Kasey Kahne, Ty Dillon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Paul Menard, Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell,  A.J. Allmendinger, David Ragan, Danica Patrick.
    • Kahne’s latest poor run leaves him in a likely must-win situation unless he can kick his performance up over the summer.

Playoff Points

Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 18
2 Jimmie Johnson 15
3 Brad Keselowski 12
4 (tie) Ryan Blaney 8 (+5)
4 (tie) Kyle Larson 8 (+1)
6 (tie) Kurt Busch 5
6 (tie) Ryan Newman 5
6 (tie) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 5
6 (tie) Austin Dillon 5
10 Kyle Busch 4 (+1)
11 Kevin Harvick 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 Kyle Busch 10 (+1 Playoff) 1 Kyle Larson 10 (+1 Playoff)
2 Kevin Harvick 9 2 Kyle Busch 9
3 Brad Keselowski 8 3 Martin Truex, Jr. 8
4 Kyle Larson 7 4 Kevin Harvick 7
5 Jimmie Johnson 6 5 Chase Elliott 6
6 Chase Elliott 5 6 Erik Jones 5
7 Kurt Busch 4 7 Brad Keselowski 4
8 Matt Kenseth 3 8 Kurt Busch 3
9 Jamie McMurray 2 9 Kasey Kahne 2
10 Austin Dillon 1 10 Matt Kenseth 1

Season Totals

RANK DRIVER TEAM STAGE POINTS STAGE WINS
1. Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing 185 8
2. Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 176 3
3. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 133 4
4. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 127 3
5. Brad Keselowski Team Penske 125 2
6. Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 105 2
7. Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing 100 3
8. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 99 0
9. Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing 84 0
10. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing 69 1
11. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 68 2
12. Joey Logano Team Penske 64 1
13. Erik Jones Furniture Row Racing 56 0
14. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing 38 0
15. Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing 31 0
16. Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing 28 0
17. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports 21 0
18. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports 18 0
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing 17 0
20. Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 13 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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