Stage points could play a key role in who advances to next month’s Cup championship race.
Brad Keselowski holds the final transfer spot to the title race heading into Sunday’s event at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
Keselowski has an eight-point lead on Chase Elliott for that last spot. Elliott has shown an ability to score more stage points than Keselowski in the playoffs. Should that trend continue — Elliott has outscored Keselowski by 37 points in the playoffs — it could help Elliott pass Keselowski for a spot in the title race.
MORE: Cup playoff standings
Keselowski’s challenges could continue this weekend. He’s not scored stage points in his last three Texas races. Elliott has 12 stage points in those races.
“It’s probably gonna come down to the wire at Martinsville,” Keselowski said recently of next week’s race.
That could be a good thing for him. Keselowski won at Richmond in the playoffs and at New Hampshire. He finished third to Martin Truex Jr. at Martinsville in June.
Stage points could play a larger role in this year’s playoffs because of Joey Logano’s win last weekend. He entered that race outside a transfer spot to the title race. With Kevin Harvick likely to advance— and Denny Hamlin still in position to take a third spot — the remaining drivers could be racing for the final spot at Phoenix.
Keselowski has failed to score stage points in two of the first seven playoff races. He did not score stage points in the playoff opener at Darlington. Keselowski hit the wall in the first stage and lost a lap for repairs. He got back on the lead lap in the second stage but could not climb into the top 10. Elliott scored eight stage points that race.
Keselowski also failed to score stage points at Las Vegas, the opening race in the second round. Elliott scored 17 stage points.
Despite having radio problems at Kansas last weekend, Elliott outscored Keselowski in stage points 16-14.
“I think for us we just have to treat every week like it’s our last chance, like it’s the last race of the year because that’s the best way I think we can approach them,” Elliott said after the Kansas race of his approach the rest of this round.
“I think if you were ever to make the final four one day, you’re going to be better prepared for it because you’ve got to go to that last race and likely win. I think the more we put ourselves in that position, recognize that now, the better off we’ll be and the better we’ll be prepared.”
Stage points scored in playoffs
83 – Chase Elliott
67 – Martin Truex Jr.
63 – Denny Hamlin
57 – Joey Logano
57 – Alex Bowman
56 – Kevin Harvick
52 – Brad Keselowski
26 – Kurt Busch