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Xfinity Playoff Grid: Brendan Gaughan on bubble; Darrell Wallace Jr.’s presence lingers

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The Xfinity Series season is 17 races old and yet there’s only three series regulars locked into the playoffs.

Thanks to wins from eight different Cup Series regulars, only William Byron, Ryan Reed and Justin Allgaier have qualified for the postseason based on wins.

That leaves nine spots left to be filled on either race wins or points by the time the regular season ends in nine races.

Entering this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the drivers on the bubble are Blake Koch and Brendan Gaughan.

Koch, 11th on the grid, is 35 points above the cutoff. Gaughan is 12th and just nine points above the cutoff in a season where the Richard Childress Racing veteran has four DNFs and only two top 10s in the last seven races.

Below is the playoff grid through 17 races.

 

Though he hasn’t competed in the last five Xfinity races, the presence of Darrell Wallace Jr. is still felt in the series’ points standings.

Wallace last made a start for Roush Fenway Racing at Pocono on June 10, finishing the race fourth in points. But since then he has only fallen to 12th in the points standings.

This puts Wallace ahead of Gaughan, Ryan Sieg, JJ Yeley, Ross Chastain, Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones and Spencer Gallagher, who have started all 17 races this year.

When this was noted on Twitter, Wallace gave his two cents in GIF form.

 

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Cup Playoff Grid: Denny Hamlin becomes 11th driver to qualify for Cup postseason

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After repeat winners at Daytona and Kentucky, Denny Hamlin became the latest driver to win his way into the Cup Series playoffs Sunday at New Hampshire.

Hamlin, with his first victory of the season, is the 11th driver to clinch a spot in the 16-car field for the playoffs.

He would be the 12th if not for Joey Logano‘s Richmond win being encumbered due to an inspection failure.

If the postseason began this weekend, the drivers getting into the 16-car field on points would be Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth.

With his win, Hamlin has seven playoff points. That puts him eighth on the playoff grid among those who have clenched a playoff spot. He is ahead of Kurt Busch (five playoff points), Ryan Newman (five) and Austin Dillon (five).

In the graphic below, drivers in green are in the playoffs on wins. Drivers in yellow would be in on points and drivers in orange would not make the playoffs.

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Kyle Larson has narrow lead over Martin Truex Jr. on playoff grid following Kentucky

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With eight races left in the regular season, there are still only 10 drivers qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs based on wins.

Only 16 teams qualify for the playoffs.

The last two races at Daytona and Kentucky were won by repeat winners, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.

The last new driver to qualify was Kevin Harvick for his win at Sonoma Raceway. Joey Logano has a win at Richmond, but it was encumbered due to his No. 22 Ford failing post-race inspection.

Kyle Busch is third on the grid and leads all drivers who are winless at this point.

If the regular season ended today, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Trevor Bayne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be the first four drivers out of the playoffs based on points.

Though Kyle Larson has a one-point lead over Truex on the playoff grid, Truex leads all drivers with 28 playoff points after his Kentucky win. Jimmie Johnson is next with 16.

Below is the full playoff grid through 18 races this season.

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Cup Series playoff grid following Sonoma

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With the Coke Zero 400 set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC, the race will mark the start of a 10-race sprint to the playoffs in September.

Only 16 Cup drivers can make the playoffs and following Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway, Kevin Harvick made it 10 drivers locked in based on wins. It could have been 11 if not for Joey Logano‘s encumbered finish for his win at Richmond in April.

Kyle Larson leads the way with his two wins – Auto Club, Michigan – and 13 payoff points. Martin Truex Jr. is second and leads all drivers with 11 stage wins and 21 playoff points.

With 10 races left until the playoffs begin at Richmond, all 10 qualified drivers are in the top 20 in points. But six of the top 12 on the playoff grid don’t have wins. That group is led by Kyle Busch, who is fourth in points but has not won since last July’s Brickyard 400.

Jamie McMurray is in eighth and is the highest driver on the grid who has not earned any playoff points through 16 races.

Below is the full playoff grid.

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