Martin Truex Jr.’s victory in the Toyota/SaveMart350 at Sonoma Raceway set a mark that many of his competitors don’t want to consider. Through 16 races, there have been only six different winners and that is the least NASCAR has seen since 1978.
Unless there is a unique winner in every remaining Cup race, someone is going to qualify for the playoffs based on points. And in all likelihood, the number of drivers qualifying on points is going to be considerably higher.
“Right now the focus is, how do we make the playoffs,” Dale Jarrett said in Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “If you’re inside that top 16 right now, then you’ve got to figure out how do we stay there. If you’re outside? What can we do?
“Obviously winning takes care of all that, but we’ve seen that Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer are pretty set on letting the rest of the field battle for stage points and as many points as they can gather, because they’ve won 12 of 16 races.”
Two Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers are currently in playoff contention based on the points’ standings. It was reflected in the way they raced last Sunday.
“Chase Elliott is a perfect example of what he did on Sunday. … He put himself in a great position by gathering as many points as he did,” Jarrett continued. “He actually garnered the most points of anybody in the race. He had 49 points because of the stage points he got. He finished fourth and second (in the stages), I believe. And then he finished fourth in the race.”
Johnson scored the second-most points in the race with 42.
“You can’t wait until five races to go and say now we’ve got to start points racing. You have to start this weekend at Chicagoland and there’s a lot of these teams that are going to have to figure that out.’
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