Playoff Points: Charlotte 2 Edition

Russell LaBounty/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: Charlotte Motor Speedway

Event: Bank of America 500

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Stage Winner(s): Kevin Harvick (Won Both Stages)

Who Won Big

  • Martin Truex Jr.: If there was any doubt about whether Truex would get past the Round of 12 this season – and there wasn’t much – Truex and Furniture Row Racing quickly squashed that with a win in the round’s first race. He’ll be the only one resting easy at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.
  • Kevin Harvick: He didn’t claim his second win of the season, but Harvick did tally 20 points and two playoff points in Sunday’s stages before finishing third – an effort that elevated the Californian to a 26-point cushion over playoff elimination.
  • Chase Elliott: Charlotte saw a bridesmaid sweep for Elliott, with the sophomore finishing second in each stage before ending up in – you guess it – second when the checkered flag flew. It was another frustrating effort given Elliott’s continued quest for a first win, but the result elevated the Georgian from outside of the Round of 8 bubble to fourth in the standings.

Who Hurt Their Odds:

  • Kyle Busch: Another frustrating trip to Charlotte left Busch struggling through heat exhaustion to a 29th-place result. The Nevadan is still in the top eight due to his healthy advantage in playoff points, but can’t afford additional issues in the next two races.
  • Brad Keselowski: It was a quiet day for the 2012 Cup Series champion. Keselowski failed to tally stage points and ended a subpar showing in Charlotte with a 15th-place result, dropping below the playoff cut line in the process.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Try as he might, Stenhouse couldn’t quite snag a top 10 in Charlotte, finishing 13th and leaving the weekend last among the remaining playoff drivers.. That means the Roush Fenway Racing shoe will need a near-perfect run at Talladega Superspeedway – the site of his first Cup Series win in the spring – if he hopes to make up his current 10-point gap and slide into the Round of 8.

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins In Round Points Points Ahead/Behind Cutoff
1 Martin Truex Jr. 1 3106 63
2 Kyle Larson 0 3072 29
3 Kevin Harvick 0 3069 26
4 Chase Elliott 0 3059 16
5 Denny Hamlin 0 3056 13
6 Kyle Busch 0 3055 12
7 Jimmie Johnson 0 3051 8
8 Jamie McMurray 0 3044 1
Round of 8 Cutoff
9 Matt Kenseth 0 3043 -1
10 Brad Keselowski 0 3042 -2
11 Ryan Blaney 0 3039 -5
12 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0 3034 -10

Where They Stand

Victories in both of Sunday’s stages helped Kevin Harvick in his quest for a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title. (Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)

Safe (For Now)

  • Martin Truex Jr.
    • Truex’s cruise to Homestead-Miami Speedway continues.

More Work to Do

  • Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick

On the Bubble

  • Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray

Within Reach 

  • Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Likely Need to Win

Playoff Points

Total Playoff Points
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 64
3 Kyle Busch 41
2 Kyle Larson 34
4 Brad Keselowski 20
5 (tie) Jimmie Johnson 17
5 (tie) Kevin Harvick 17
7 Jimmie Johnson 13
8 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10
9 Ryan Blaney 8
10 Chase Elliott 6
11 Matt Kenseth 5
16 Jamie McMurray 3

Martin Truex Jr. won for the sixth time this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 
World Copyright: Rusty Jarrett
NKP

Potential Playoff Points Earned On-Track
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 49
3 Kyle Busch 33
2 Kyle Larson 24
4 Jimmie Johnson 16
5 Brad Keselowski 15
6 (tie) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 10
6 (tie) Kevin Harvick 10
8 Ryan Blaney 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 Kevin Harvick 10 (+1 Playoff Point) 1 Kevin Harvick 10 (+1 Playoff Point)
2 Chase Elliott 9 2 Chase Elliott 9
3 Jamie McMurray 8 3 Matt Kenseth 8
4 Kyle Larson 7 4 Martin Truex Jr. 7
5 Kyle Busch 6 5 Kurt Busch 6
6 Denny Hamlin 5 6 Denny Hamlin 5
7 Matt Kenseth 4 7 Kyle Larson 4
8 Kurt Busch 3 8 Jimmie Johnson 3
9 Daniel Suarez 2 9 Ryan Blaney 2
10 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 Jamie McMurray 1

Playoff Totals

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stage Points
Driver Playoff Stage Points Stage Points This Round Playoff Stage Wins
Kyle Larson 51 11 1
Kyle Busch 50 6 2
Martin Truex Jr. 48 7 1
Chase Elliott 48 18 1
Kevin Harvick 42 20 2
Brad Keselowski 36 0 1
Denny Hamlin 33 10
Matt Kenseth 32 12
Kurt Busch (e) 12 9
Jamie McMurray 11 9
Ryan Blaney 10 2
Jimmie Johnson 10 4
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 7 0
Ryan Newman (e) 0 0
Austin Dillon (e) 0 0
Kasey Kahne (e) 0 0

Season Totals

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stage Points
Driver Total Stage Points Stage Wins
Martin Truex Jr. 486 19
Kyle Larson 324 4
Kyle Busch 311 13
Kevin Harvick 268 5
Brad Keselowski 245 5
Matt Kenseth 216 3
Denny Hamlin 198 2
Chase Elliott 185 3
Jimmie Johnson 179 1
Ryan Blaney 177 3
Jamie McMurray 147
Erik Jones 146
Joey Logano 133 1
Kurt Busch 129
Clint Bowyer 87 1
Ryan Newman 75
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 57
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 43
Kasey Kahne 40
Danica Patrick 26
Daniel Suarez 25 1
Austin Dillon 22
Trevor Bayne 22
A.J. Allmendinger 22
Michael McDowell 18
David Ragan 9
Paul Menard 7
Ty Dillon 6

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