SPEEDWAY, Ind. — With the final regular-season race for the Cup Series at Indianapolis, here’s a look at what is at stake:
Fourteen of the 16 playoff spots have been filled. Already securing playoff spots are Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola.
If there is a first-time winner, then that person will knock either Johnson or Bowman — whoever has the fewest points — out of the playoffs.
“It’s a pretty vulnerable spot coming to Indy with three guys (Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard) who have won here behind you in points that haven’t won yet, but you know, I think we can get the job done just as good as they can,” said Bowman, seeking his first playoff spot.
Among those trying to race their way in with a victory is Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was in the playoffs last year.
“It’s clear-cut what we’ve got to do, so throughout the race we’re not really worried about each stage,” Stenhouse said. “We’re only worried about setting ourselves up for the end of the race because that’s all that really matters for us in this particular race.”
Kyle Busch has a 39-point lead over Kevin Harvick for the regular-season title. No one else can overtake Busch.
Last year was the first time since the elimination format was created in 2014 that the regular-season won the championship. Martin Truex Jr. accomplished the feat.
“Being the regular-season champion … that’s kind of what we set out to do after about week eight or nine,” Kyle Busch said. “Earlier on in the season, we had a rough start to kind of fire off with Daytona not being so great and some other races not being so great. Once we got to the lead and … we started winning some races, then it kind of became a reality and that’s what we set our (goal) for the rest of the regular season. Hopefully we can see that through.”
The winner of the regular season collects 15 playoff points. Second place in the regular gets 10 playoff points, third gets eight playoff points and on down to 10th place in the regular-season standings getting one playoff point.