Playoff Points: Kansas 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: Kansas Speedway

Event: Hollywood Casino 400

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Stage Winner(s): Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin

Who Won Big

  • Martin Truex Jr.: Of course Truex won on a 1.5-mile oval. Of course he did. Truex’s fourth-straight win on an intermediate upped his playoff point total to a hefty 69. Three decent runs should get him to Homestead.
  • Kyle Busch: Entering Kansas on the brink of elimination, Busch provided two strong stage showings (including a win in Stage 1) and did enough in the final stage to make his way into the Round of 8. Now he can reset in second, his championship hopes completely restored.
  • Jimmie Johnson: His quest for an eighth championship may not be looking pretty, but it continues on. Johnson overcame two spins on Sunday to sneak into the Round of 8 after dodging the massive crash in the race’s late stages. Looks like that old golden horseshoe may still be around.

Who Hurt Their Odds:

  • Kyle Larson: Life comes at you fast. Larson seemed to be a contender for the win in the early stages at Kansas, and was running as high as third. Then disaster struck. One blown motor later, Larson was left with a 39th-place result and a shocking playoff exit.
  • Matt Kenseth: What a brutal swing of events. Kenseth appeared poised to contend for one of the final playoff spots when a massive crash – triggered by his replacement Erik Jones, no less – damaged Kenseth’s car. A mistaken decision to send seven men over the wall to work on Kenseth’s car moments later ended his day and, ultimately, his championship chase.
  • Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Thus ends the playoff pursuit of two of the postseason underdogs. McMurray and Stenhouse entered the Round of 12 as favorites for upsets – McMurray on points, and Stenhouse with a potential win at Talladega Superspeedway. Neither came true, and both drivers are eliminated because of it.

Playoff Standings: 

Rank Driver Wins In Round Points Points Ahead/Behind Cutoff
1 Martin Truex Jr. 0 4069 52
2 Brad Keselowski 0 4042 25
3 Kyle Larson 0 4026 9
4 Kevin Harvick 0 4017 0
Championship 4 Cutoff
5 Denny Hamlin 0 4017 0
6 Chase Elliott 0 4014 -3
7 Ryan Blaney 0 4009 -8
8 Jimmie Johnson 0 4006 -11

Where They Stand

He fell short of victory lane, but Kyle Busch did what he needed to do in order to advance in the playoffs at Kansas. 
(Photo: Barry Cantrell/NKP)

Safe (For Now)

  • Martin Truex Jr.
    • Truex’s large playoff point advantage gives him a mulligan for the Round of 8.

More Work to Do

  • Kyle Busch
    • Busch comes to the penultimate round of the 2017 playoffs with a noticeable advantage over the majority of the field. But one mistake could drop the Nevadan within reach.

On the Bubble

  • Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick

Within Reach 

  • Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott

Likely Need to Win

Playoff Points

Total Playoff Points – Playoff Contenders
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 69
2 Kyle Busch 42
3 Brad Keselowski 26
4 (tie) Kevin Harvick 17
4 (tie) Jimmie Johnson 17
6 Denny Hamlin 14
7 Ryan Blaney 9
8 Chase Elliott 6

Truex’s seventh victory added five points to his playoff point lead. (Photo: Barry Cantrell/NKP)

Potential Playoff Points Earned On-Track
Rank Driver Playoff Points
1 Martin Truex, Jr. 54
2 Kyle Busch 34
3 Kyle Larson 24
4 Brad Keselowski 21
5 Jimmie Johnson 16
6 (tie) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 10
6 (tie) Kevin Harvick 10
8 Ryan Blaney 9
9 Denny Hamlin 8
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 Kyle Busch 10 (+1 Playoff Point) 1 Denny Hamlin 10 (+1 Playoff Point)
2 Kevin Harvick 9 2 Kevin Harvick 9
3 Denny Hamlin 8 3 Brad Keselowski 8
4 Ryan Blaney 7 4 Matt Kenseth 7
5 Jamie McMurray 6 5 Kyle Busch 6
6 Jimmie Johnson 5 6 Erik Jones 5
7 Chase Elliott 4 7 Jamie McMurray 4
8 Martin Truex, Jr. 3 8 Ryan Blaney 3
9 Matt Kenseth 2 9 Chase Elliott 2
10 Erik Jones 1 10 Jimmie Johnson 1

Playoff Totals

Driver Playoff Stage Points Stage Points: Round of 12 Stage Points: Round of 16 Playoff Stage Wins
Kyle Busch 68 24 44 3
Brad Keselowski 63 27 36 2
Kevin Harvick 63 41 22 2
Chase Elliott 61 31 30 1
Denny Hamlin 52 29 23 1
Kyle Larson (e) 51 11 40 1
Martin Truex Jr. 51 10 41 1
Matt Kenseth (e) 41 21 20
Ryan Blaney 38 30 8 1
Jimmie Johnson 26 20 6
Kurt Busch (e) 21 18 3
Jamie McMurray (e) 21 19 2
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (e) 14 7 7
Austin Dillon (e) 5 5 0
Kasey Kahne (e) 1 1 0
Ryan Newman (e) 0 0 0

Season Totals

Driver Total Stage Points Stage Wins
Martin Truex Jr. 489 19
Kyle Busch 329 14
Kyle Larson 324 4
Kevin Harvick 289 5
Brad Keselowski 272 6
Matt Kenseth 225 3
Denny Hamlin 217 3
Ryan Blaney 205 4
Chase Elliott 198 3
Jimmie Johnson 195 1
Jamie McMurray 157
Erik Jones 152
Joey Logano 142 1
Kurt Busch 138
Clint Bowyer 100 1
Ryan Newman 75
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 57
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 50
Kasey Kahne 41
Austin Dillon 27
Danica Patrick 26
Daniel Suarez 25 1
Trevor Bayne 24
A.J. Allmendinger 22
Michael McDowell 22
David Ragan 9
Paul Menard 7
Ty Dillon 6

One Comment

  1. Sol Shine

    October 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Second time this year that Kenseth got hosed by Jones. He’s going to think there’s a conspiracy going on. But reality is that once again Kenseth’s pit crew is the weak link. He used to have one of the better crews but all the good resources are going elsewhere now. Sad way to see his career end, he deserved better.

    And on another note, I’m sure Nascar could make the points even harder to understand if they work at it a bit more. That will net them even fewer fans, so fly at it Nascar big heads.

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