For the second year in a row, Martin Truex Jr. won the playoff-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway to advance to the second round of NASCAR Cup Series postseason.
With his win, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick are the top-two drivers among the 15 still competing for the remaining 11 spots in the second round.
There are five drivers primarily in danger of being among the four eliminated following the next two races at New Hampshire and Dover.
Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch are tied with 2,026 points, though Dillon is listed as 12th and Busch in 13th on the grid.
Following them are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who is four points back from Busch/Dillon, Kasey Kahne (-5) and Ryan Newman (-7).
Below is the full playoff grid following the first race of the first round.
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It took 26 races but the grid for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been finalized for the 10-race playoffs that begins this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN).
Sixteen drivers will fight it out over three rounds with three races in each before four drivers settle the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19.
The field is led by regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr., who enters Chicagoland with 2,053 points off his four race wins, 18 stage wins and 15 points from winning the regular season.
Truex is followed in the top five by Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and defending champion Jimmie Johnson.
In the back half of the field, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Matt Kenseth each enter the playoffs with 2,005 points. Kenseth is the only driver of those five whose five extra points were not earned via race win.
Jamie McMurray brings up the rear of the field with 2,003 points.
Kenseth, McMurray and Chase Elliott are the only drivers in the playoffs without a race win.
Six drivers in the field have won Cup titles before. Led by Johnson’s seven titles, they have combined for 12.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney are making their first playoff appearances.
The average age of the field is 34.1.
Here’s the full playoff grid.
With the off week for Cup teams following the Bristol night race, there wasn’t any change in the standings ahead of this weekend’s Southern 500.
But here is a refresher on how the playoff picture looks with just two races left in the regular season.
The 16-team field will be solidified on Sept. 9 at Richmond Raceway.
Heading into the Southern 500, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray are the only drivers currently in the 16-team field without wins.
Clint Bowyer is 58 points back from McMurray and Joey Logano, whose Richmond was encumbered after his No. 22 Ford failed inspection, is -117 points.
Here’s the playoff grid.
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Martin Truex Jr. continues to hold serve atop the weekly NASCAR Cup playoff standings.
Truex added one point to his total of 35 playoff points in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Race winner Kyle Larson moved back into second place in the standings with 18 playoff points.
Jimmie Johnson dropped one spot to third place with 16 points, followed by a tie for fourth place between Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch (14 points each).
As for the playoff bubble, with three races remaining to qualify for the playoffs, Chase Elliott is 62 points ahead of the cut-off line, Jamie McMurray (+52 points) and Matt Kenseth (+31).
On the outside of the playoff qualifying cut-off are Clint Bowyer (-31), Joey Logano (-98), Erik Jones (-130) and Daniel Suarez (-139). While Bowyer could still potentially qualify for the playoffs on points, Logano, Jones and Suarez are all in must-win situations to make it.
Here’s this week’s playoff standings chart:
Martin Truex Jr. now stands alone atop the Cup Series playoff grid following his win Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
Truex broke a tie with Jimmie Johnson with his fourth win of the year, though he holds a large lead when it comes to playoff points. With his four race wins and 14 stage wins, Truex has 34 playoff points to Johnson’s 15.
Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth kept their spots in the only spaces remaining on the 16-team playoff grid that haven’t been filled by race winners. But with his second-place finish at Watkins Glen, Kenseth increased his advantage over Clint Bowyer in the cutoff spot from 17 to 28 points.
Below is the playoff grid with four races left in the regular season.