Playoff Points: Daytona 2 Edition

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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: Daytona International Speedway

Event: Coke Zero 400

Race Winner: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Stage Winner(s): Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth

Who Won Big

  • Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: Roush Fenway still has improvements to make on the majority of the circuit, but they’ve got restrictor plates down. Stenhouse claimed his second-consecutive plate win at Daytona, and in doing so bumped his playoff point total to 10, an addition that should provide him a small bit of cushion come the postseason.
  • Clint Bowyer: Back-to-back runner-up results proved equal parts frustrating and helpful for Bowyer, who is still searching for his first win. Still, the No. 14 team has quietly built up a 27-point edge on the playoff bubble, critical as his competitors struggle with inconsistency.
  • Everyone on the Playoff Bubble: Phew. With a host of hopeful first-time 2017 winners in the top 10, the latter moments of Saturday’s race must’ve proved panic-inducing for those drivers on the playoff bubble. Thankfully for them, Stenhouse’s spirited drive prevented another new victor.

 Who Hurt Their Odds:

Nearly everyone except this guy either won or lost big in Daytona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

  • Joey Logano: The 2015 Daytona 500 champion’s cumbersome summer continued with a 35th-place run in Florida, dropping Logano back out of the playoff field. It appears he, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer may duel to Richmond for the finals spots in the field.
  • Everyone Who Needs a Win to Make the Playoffs: While Stenhouse’s drive saved the playoff bubble drivers, it proved as a critical blow to the hopes of those drivers in the field that need a win for a postseason berth. From David Ragan to Paul Menard, Daytona was likely the best chance for a victory for many drivers in the back half of the top 30 in the standings. Stenhouse’s victory will likely be the death knell for their playoff hopes.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr: He could be included in the list of drivers above, too, but Earnhardt’s loss stung worst given his pedigree at Daytona and comeback throughout the race. Could the soon-to-be-retired star still win? Definitely. But it’s difficult to find a track where the odds suited him like Daytona.

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins Points Points Ahead/Behind Cutoff
7 Jimmie Johnson 3 516 74
1 Kyle Larson 2 667 225
2 Martin Truex, Jr. 2 649 207
5 Brad Keselowski 2 535 93
16 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 2 395 -47
3 Kevin Harvick 1 557 115
13 Ryan Blaney 1 435 -7
14 Kurt Busch 1 408 -34
15 Ryan Newman 1 399 -43
21 Austin Dillon 1 323 -119
3 Kyle Busch 0 559 117
6 Chase Elliott 0 524 82
8 Jamie McMurray 0 504 62
9 Denny Hamlin 0 498 56
10 Clint Bowyer 0 469 27
11 Matt Kenseth 0 445 3
Playoff Cutoff
12 Joey Logano 1* 442 -3
17 Erik Jones 0 386 -59
18 Daniel Suarez 0 354 -91
19 Trevor Bayne 0 351 -94
20 Kasey Kahne 0 328 -117
22 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 0 307 -138
23 Ty Dillon 0 297 -148
24 Paul Menard 0 293 -152
25 Michael McDowell 0 261 -184
26 Chris Buescher 0 250 -195
27 A.J. Allmendinger 0 242 -203
28 David Ragan 0 229 -216
29 Danica Patrick 0 208 -237
30 Aric Almirola 0 188 -257
* One or more wins are encumbered

Where They Stand

(All But) Locked In

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

Safe (For Now)

  • Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin
    • Hamlin gave himself what is essentially a full-race advantage on the playoff scrum with a top five in Sonoma. .

More Work to Do

Daytona offered a minor shakeup in the playoff grid. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

  • Clint Bowyer
    • Bowyer’s heading in the right direction, but it still one issue away from falling right back into the playoff bubble.

On the Bubble

  • Matt Kenseth

Within Reach 

  • Joey Logano, Erik Jones
    • Logano again falls out of the playoff grid, making his encumbered win matter that much more.
    • Jones lies on the cusp of contention, but needs strong runs throughout the summer if he intends to close the gap.

Likely Need to Win

  • Daniel Suarez, Trevor Bayne, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ty Dillon, Paul Menard, Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher, A.J. Allmendinger, David Ragan, Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola.

Playoff Points

Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 21
2 Jimmie Johnson 16
3 Kyle Larson 13
4 Brad Keselowski 13 (+1)
5 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 10 (+5)
6 (tie) Ryan Blaney 8
6 (tie) Kevin Harvick 8
8 (tie) Kurt Busch 5
8 (tie) Ryan Newman 5
8 (tie) Austin Dillon 5
11 Kyle Busch 4
12 (tie) Chase Elliott 2
12 (tie) Denny Hamlin 2
14 (tie) Matt Kenseth 2 (+1)
14 (tie) Joey Logano 1

Stage Points

Previous Race Results

Stage 1 Stage 2
Pos. Driver Points Pos. Driver Points
1 Brad Keselowski N/A 1 Matt Kenseth 10 (+1 Playoff Point)
2 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 9 2 Denny Hamlin 9
3 Ryan Blaney 8 3 Jimmie Johnson N/A
4 Clint Bowyer 7 4 Kurt Busch 7
5 Joey Logano 6 5 David Ragan 6
6 Michael McDowell 5 6 Kevin Harvick 5
7 Jamie McMurray 4 7 Kasey Kahne 4
8 Kurt Busch 3 8 Ty Dillon 3
9 Matt Kenseth 2 9 Darrell Wallace, Jr. 2
10 David Ragan 1 10 Ryan Blaney 1

Season Totals

Driver Total Stage Points* Stage Wins
Martin Truex Jr. 215 11
Kyle Larson 201 3
Kyle Busch 150 4
Brad Keselowski 145 3
Kevin Harvick 137 3
Ryan Blaney 124 3
Jimmie Johnson 118 1
Chase Elliott 112 2
Matt Kenseth 102 2
Denny Hamlin 101 2
Jamie McMurray 88
Joey Logano 83 1
Erik Jones 56
Kurt Busch 51
Clint Bowyer 50
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 35
Ryan Newman 29
Kasey Kahne 24
Austin Dillon 19
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17
AJ Allmendinger 16
Trevor Bayne 15
Danica Patrick 10
David Ragan 7
Ty Dillon 5
Michael McDowell 5
Paul Menard 4
Daniel Suarez 4
Darrell Wallace, Jr. 2

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