Playoff Points: New Hampshire 2 Edition

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Following each 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: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Event: ISM Connect 300

Race Winner: Kyle Busch

Stage Winner(s): Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch

Who Won Big

  • Kyle Busch: It wasn’t a perfect weekend for Busch and the No. 18 team – they fell two spots short of taking Stage 1 and sweeping the day – but the 2015 MENCS champs did just about everything right. Busch won Stage 2 and the race to gain six valuable playoff points, bumping him ahead of Kyle Larson for the second-highest total on the tour with 36 total points. He trails only this guy….
  • Martin Truex Jr.Stage winner, MTJ. For the 19th time this season, Truex put together a strong early performance to claim a stage victory. Now the New Jersey native needs just one more playoff points to reach 60 of them – the maximum amount a team can achieve in one week.
  • Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski: It was a quiet day for Larson and Keselowski, but a good one nonetheless. The duo combined to score finishes of second and fourth, respectively, guaranteeing their way into the next round of the playoff on points in the process.

Who Hurt Their Odds:

  • Kurt Busch: Talk about peaks and valleys. After scoring three-straight top fives to enter the playoffs, 2004 MENCS champion Busch fell victim to outside circumstances for the second time in as many races at New Hampshire, getting included in a crash with teammate Kevin Harvick. The damage eliminated Busch from the running, resulting in a 37th-place finish. Now the veteran’s hopes to advance to Round 2 of the playoffs will likely hinge on his chance to win at Dover International Speedway.
  • Kasey Kahne: In the midst of already steep odds, Kahne’s playoff hopes took a hit in New Hampshire when suspension issues sidelined the Brickyard 400 winner after 148 laps. Kahne now sits last on the playoff grid in 16th, and will likely need a surprise victory in Dover to keep his hopes for a title in his final year with Hendrick Motorsports alive.
  • Kevin Harvick: Thanks to his playoff point advantage the story will likely be a non-issue, but Harvick’s early crash with Austin Dillon at New Hampshire resulted in a 36th-place finish. The 2014 Cup Series champion is still 25 points clear of the cutoff line, but a bad day in Dover could leave him vulnerable.

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins In Round Points Points Ahead/Behind Cutoff
1 Martin Truex Jr. 1 2149 105
2 Kyle Larson 0 2125 81
3 Kyle Busch 1 2119 75
4 Brad Keselowski 0 2106 62
5 Denny Hamlin 0 2088 44
6 Matt Kenseth 0 2087 43
7 Jimmie Johnson 0 2076 32
8 (tie) Ryan Blaney 0 2070 26
8 (tie) Chase Elliott 0 2070 26
10 Kevin Harvick 0 2069 25
11 Jamie McMurray 0 2053 9
12 (tie) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0 2044 0
Round of 12 Cutoff
12 (tie) Austin Dillon 0 2044 0
14 Ryan Newman 0 2043 -1
15 Kurt Busch 0 2027 -17
16 Kasey Kahne 0 2023 -21

Where They Stand

Kurt Busch’s hopes of giving Monster Energy a title in their first year as the presenting sponsor of the Cup Series took a hit in New Hampshire. (Photo: Rusty Jarrett/NKP)

Safe (For Now)

  • Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski
    • Truex and Busch are safe with a win.
    • Larson and Keselowski locked themselves into Round 2 on points.

More Work to Do

  • Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth
    • It would take a monumental setback for either driver to be eliminated with their healthy advantage, but they aren’t quite guaranteed into the next round just yet.

On the Bubble

  • Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
    • Johnson, Blaney, Elliott and Harvick should be safe as long as they can avoid catastrophe in Dover.
    • McMurray and Stenhouse are both within striking distance for those outside of the bubble, particularly if one of the trailing drivers can tally stage points.

Within Reach 

  • Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne
    • Dillon and Newman each go into the last race of Round 1 with a playoff position within reach. Richard Childress Racing just needs a strong weekend in Delaware.
    • The elder Busch and Kahne both likely need a win to advance to Round 2 after their struggles in Delaware.

Likely Need to Win

Playoff Points

Total Playoff Points
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 59
3 Kyle Busch 36
2 Kyle Larson 33
4 Brad Keselowski 19
5 Jimmie Johnson 17
6 Kevin Harvick 15
7 Jimmie Johnson 13
8 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10
9 Ryan Blaney 8
10 Chase Elliott 7
11 (tie) Kurt Busch 5
11 (tie) Ryan Newman 5
11 (tie) Austin Dillon 5
11 (tie) Kasey Kahne 5
11 (tie) Matt Kenseth 5
16 Jamie McMurray 3

Winner winner, M&M’s Caramel dinner. Kyle Busch got the job done in New Hampshire. (Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)

Potential Playoff Points Earned On-Track
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 44
3 Kyle Busch 28
2 Kyle Larson 23
4 Jimmie Johnson 16
5 Brad Keselowski 14
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 Chase Elliott 3
15 Matt Kenseth 2
16 (tie) Joey Logano 1
16 (tie) Clint Bowyer 1
16 (tie) Daniel Suarez 1

Stage Points

Previous Race Results

Stage 1 Stage 2
Pos. Driver Points Pos. Driver Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 10 (+1 Playoff Point) 1 Kyle Busch 10 (+1 Playoff Point)
2 Kyle Larson 9 2 Matt Kenseth 9
3 Kyle Busch 8 3 Brad Keselowski 8
4 Erik Jones 7 4 Erik Jones 7
5 Ryan Blaney 6 5 Kyle Larson 6
6 Matt Kenseth 5 6 Martin Truex Jr. 5
7 Brad Keselowski 4 7 Jimmie Johnson 4
8 Jimmie Johnson 3 8 Denny Hamlin 3
9 Denny Hamlin 2 9 Ryan Blaney 2
10 Kevin Harvick 1 10 Jamie McMurray 1

Playoff Totals

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stage Points
Driver Playoff Stage Points Playoff Stage Wins
Kyle Busch 28 2
Kyle Larson 25
Martin Truex Jr. 24 1
Brad Keselowski 23
Matt Kenseth 20
Kevin Harvick 19
Chase Elliott 18 1
Denny Hamlin 17
Ryan Blaney 8
Jimmie Johnson 7
Kurt Busch 3
Jamie McMurray 2
Ryan Newman 0
Kasey Kahne 0
Austin Dillon 0
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0

Season Totals

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stage Points
Driver Total Stage Points Stage Wins
Martin Truex Jr. 462 19
Kyle Larson 298 3
Kyle Busch 291 13
Kevin Harvick 245 3
Brad Keselowski 232 4
Matt Kenseth 204 3
Denny Hamlin 182 2
Ryan Blaney 175 3
Jimmie Johnson 169 1
Chase Elliott 155 3
Erik Jones 146
Jamie McMurray 136
Joey Logano 133 1
Kurt Busch 120
Clint Bowyer 86 1
Ryan Newman 75
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 53
Kasey Kahne 40
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 36
Daniel Suarez 23 1
Austin Dillon 22
Trevor Bayne 22
A.J. Allmendinger 22
Danica Patrick 20
Michael McDowell 18
David Ragan 7
Paul Menard 7
Ty Dillon 6

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