Playoff Points: Watkins Glen Edition

John K Harrelson/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: Watkins Glen International

Event: I Love New York 355

Race Winner: Martin Truex, Jr.

Stage Winner(s): Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez

Who Won Big

(Photo: Rusty Jarrett/NKP)

  • Martin Truex Jr.: The narrative going into Watkins Glen was one of potential surprises and breakthrough winners. Instead Truex added another signature moment to a dominant 2017 campaign. The Furniture Row Racing driver now has an advantage of more than 100 points for the points lead, and has earned a series-best 34 playoff points.
  • Matt Kenseth: He fell just short of victory, but Kenseth’s runner-up result in New York helped him close the gap on Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray, while also keeping the hungry Clint Bowyer at bay.
  • Clint Bowyer: Tony Stewart’s replacement didn’t get a victory or rejoin the playoff field, but his fifth-place run was enough to keep him within range as the weeks continue to wind down.

Who Hurt Their Odds:

  • AJ Allmendinger: Entering what was likely his last weekend with a chance at a win, Allmendinger struggled en-route to a quiet top 10. That result wasn’t bad, but the lack of a victory likely spells the end of the 2014 winner’s playoff hopes.
  • Joey Logano: If his playoff hopes didn’t depend on a win before, they do now. Logano’s 24th-place finish on Sunday dropped the two-time Championship 4 participant to 95 points beyond the playoff grid. He has four races to get a win if he wants to make the playoffs for a fifth-straight year.
  • Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray: These two are doing just enough to make the playoffs as things stand. Elliott and McMurray finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in Watkins Glen, which isn’t bad. But strong runs from Kenseth and Bowyer have left the duo within striking distance for the final month of the regular season.

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins Points Points Ahead/Behind Cutoff
1 Martin Truex Jr. 4 881 272
11 Jimmie Johnson 3 574 -35
3 Kyle Larson 2 759 150
6 Brad Keselowski 2 681 72
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 486 -123
2 Kyle Busch 1 765 156
4 Kevin Harvick 1 746 137
5 Denny Hamlin 1 687 78
12 Ryan Blaney 1 565 -44
14 Kurt Busch 1 528 -81
16 Ryan Newman 1 503 -106
19 Kasey Kahne 1 437 -172
21 Austin Dillon 1 406 -203
7 Chase Elliott 0 648 39
8 Jamie McMurray 0 643 34
9 Matt Kenseth 0 637 28
Playoff Cutoff
10 Clint Bowyer 0 609 -28
13 Joey Logano 1* 542 -95
15 Daniel Suarez 0 508 -129
18 Erik Jones 0 477 -160
20 Trevor Bayne 0 408 -229
22 Paul Menard 0 382 -255
23 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 0 379 -258
24 Ty Dillon 0 378 -259
25 Michael McDowell 0 351 -286
26 AJ Allmendinger 0 349 -288
27 Chris Buescher 0 346 -291
28 Danica Patrick 0 325 -312
29 David Ragan 0 276 -361
30 Aric Almirola/Matt DiBenedetto 0 242 -395

Where They Stand

AJ Allmendinger’s playoff hopes are all-but finished. (Photo: Rusty Jarrett/NKP)

(All But) Locked In

  • Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.,  Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon
    • Race Winners

Safe (For Now)

More Work to Do

On the Bubble

  • Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray Matt Kenseth
    • Elliott and McMurray are officially on the bubble and within reach after another subpar showing at Watkins Glen.

Within Reach 

  • Clint Bowyer
    • Bowyer continues to run strong, but it may take a win for the Kansas native to seal the deal.

Likely Need to Win

  • Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell, A.J. Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto
    • Logano joins the list of must-win drivers after another tough outing.

Playoff Points

Playoff Points Earned
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 34
2 Jimmie Johnson 16
3 Kyle Busch 14
4 (tie) Kyle Larson 13
4 (tie) Brad Keselowski 13
6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 10
7 (tie) Ryan Blaney 8
7 (tie) Kevin Harvick 8
9 Denny Hamlin 7
10 (tie) Kurt Busch 5
10 (tie) Ryan Newman 5
10 (tie) Austin Dillon 5
10 (tie) Kasey Kahne 5
14 (tie) Chase Elliott 2
14 (tie) Matt Kenseth 2
16 (tie) Joey Logano 1
16 (tie) Clint Bowyer 1
16 (tie) Daniel Suarez 1

(Photo: John K Harrelson/NKP)

Playoff Points if Playoffs Started Today
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 49
2 Kyle Busch 24
3 Kyle Larson 21
4 Brad Keselowski 18
5 Jimmie Johnson 17
6 Kevin Harvick 15
7 Denny Hamlin 13
8 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10
9 Ryan Blaney 8
10 Chase Elliott 6
11 (tie) Kurt Busch 5
11 (tie) Ryan Newman 5
11 (tie) Austin Dillon 5
11 (tie) Kasey Kahne 5
15 Matt Kenseth 4
16 Jamie McMurray 3

Stage Points

Previous Race Results

Stage 1 Stage 2
Pos. Driver Points Pos. Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 10 (+1 Playoff Point) 1 Daniel Suarez 10 (+1 Playoff Point)
2 Martin Truex Jr. 9 2 Martin Truex, Jr. 9
3 Chase Elliott 8 3 Matt Kenseth 8
4 Kyle Larson 7 4 Ryan Blaney 7
5 Brad Keselowski 6 5 Erik Jones 6
6 Jamie McMurray 5 6 Denny Hamlin 5
7 Joey Logano 4 7 Brad Keselowski 4
8 AJ Allmendinger 3 8 Kurt Busch 3
9 Kasey Kahne 2 9 Kyle Busch 2
10 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 10 AJ Allmendinger 1

Season Totals

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stage Points
Driver Total Stage Points Stage Wins
Martin Truex Jr. 295 14
Kyle Larson 231 3
Kyle Busch 226 9
Kevin Harvick 180 3
Brad Keselowski 173 3
Ryan Blaney 159 3
Matt Kenseth 146 2
Denny Hamlin 131 2
Jimmie Johnson 128 1
Chase Elliott 124 2
Jamie McMurray 121
Joey Logano 97 1
Erik Jones 78
Kurt Busch 72
Clint Bowyer 66 1
Ryan Newman 39
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 36
Kasey Kahne 36
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 22
AJ Allmendinger 21
Austin Dillon 19
Trevor Bayne 18
Danica Patrick 18
Daniel Suarez 14 1
David Ragan 7
Michael McDowell 7
Ty Dillon 5
Paul Menard 4

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