Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin on playoff bubble ahead of Phoenix

Leave a comment

Then there was one.

Five Cup drivers have one race to decide the last spot in the championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

They will battle for it Sunday at Phoenix Raceway in the Can-Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC). The only drivers safe are Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Brad Keselowski leads the five drivers still eligible for the final spot. Currently in the top four, he leads Denny Hamlin by 19 points after finishing fifth at Texas.

Ryan Blaney is close on Hamlin’s heels, trailing him by three points.

It’s a much more dire scenario for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Chase Elliot and Jimmie Johnson. Elliott (-49) and Johnson (-51) are in must-win situations after the first two races of the Round of 8.

Of the five remaining drivers, Johnson (four) and Hamlin (one) have victories at the 1-mile track.

Below is the full playoff grid.

and on Facebook

Kevin Harvick on playoff bubble after Martinsville

Leave a comment

After a chaotic race at Martinsville Speedway to open the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs, the only drivers breathing easy are race-winner Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr (+67) and Brad Keselowski (+29).

The rest of the eight playoff drivers are in dangerous positions with two races left to determine the championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kevin Harvick is in the final transfer spot after finishing fifth at Martinsville. He is only three points in the final four, while Jimmie Johnson is the first driver out.

The driver in the biggest hole is Chase Elliott, who is in eighth, 26 points back from the final transfer spot after his late-race accident with Denny Hamlin relegated him to a 27th-place finish.

Below is the full playoff leaderboard following Sunday’s race.

Also, here’s the grid covering all rounds of the playoffs to date:

William Byron tops Xfinity playoff grid to start second round

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The second round of the Xfinity Series playoffs begins this weekend when the series heads to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300.

Following an elimination race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the series and the eight remaining playoff drivers are coming off an off week for the first time in months.

Those eight drivers are led by JR Motorsports’ William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler. The three drivers have been at the top of the standings since the second race of the first round.

There was a minor adjustment after the Charlotte race. Matt Tifft was penalized 10 driver points for his car failing post-race inspection. But due to the reset in points, it had no bearing on his placement in the playoffs.

Tifft is eighth in the standings and trails Ryan Reed by one point. The bottom four drivers – Cole Custer, Brennan Poole, Reed and Tifft – are each separated by one point.

Here’s the full playoff grid.

JR Motorsports commands top of Xfinity playoff grid with Cole Custer lurking

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Only one race remains in the opening round of the Xfinity Series playoffs and JR Motorsports is in control of the playoff field ahead of Saturday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

After consecutive top-three finishes, Justin Allgaier leads the standings. He has a three-point lead over teammate William Byron and a 13-point lead over teammate Elliott Sadler.

Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing is the highest non-JRM driver in fourth, 14 points back. The driver of the No. 00 Ford has finishes of fifth (Kentucky) and eighth (Dover) to open the playoffs. In his second series start at Charlotte in May, he placed seventh.

Custer’s Kentucky result came after he won the first two stages at the 1.5-mile track.

Prior to the start of the playoffs, Sadler singled out Custer as a threat for the title in the midst of JRM’s dominance.

“The biggest underdog that I think fans haven’t paid attention to as much as we have is Cole Custer,” Sadler told NBC Sports. “Those guys have done a really good job of creating a lot of speed in the last couple of months. So that to me, Cole Custer is going to surprise a lot of fans in this playoffs.”

After Saturday, four drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs. The four who face that possibility now are Brendan Gaughan, who trails Ryan Reed by two points for the final transfer spot. Michael Annett (-7), Blake Koch (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-20) also are outside a transfer spot.

Here is the full playoff grid ahead of the Drive for the Cure 300.

and on Facebook

Xfinity Playoff Grid: Justin Allgaier leads three JR Motorsports drivers in top five

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Earlier this year, Justin Allgaier said there was a good chance all four cars for JR Motorsports could make it all the way to the Xfinity Series championship race.

“I felt like, as an organization, we could get four cars in the playoffs at Homestead when the season was over,” Allgaier told NBC Sports last week. “A lot of people laughed at me, I won’t lie to you. There were a lot of people that felt like that was a very bold statement.

“But when you look at the way that we’ve run and the performance of all four of our cars, I just feel really good about our organization, our people, and I feel like this race team has the opportunity to go into these playoffs and be as successful as anyone.”

After one race in the playoffs, that prediction is going to need some help over the next two weeks to stay a live.

Allgaier, who is tied for the top spot on the 12-driver grid with Cole Custer, leads three JRM drivers in the top five. Elliott Sadler is third (-2) and rookie William Byron is fifth (-6).

Meanwhile, Michael Annett is 11th, 12 points back from the cut line after finishing 16th at Chicagoland.

The four drivers outside the top 12 are Brendan Gaughan (-8), Blake Koch (-9), Annett and Jeremy Clements (-14).

The second race of the opening round takes the series to Dover International Speedway.

Allgaier’s average finish at the 1-mile track is 13.5 in 13 Xfinity starts, Sadler’s is 11.9 in 19 starts, Byron finished sixth there in June and Annett has an average finish of 13.5 in 11 starts

Here is the Xfinity playoff grid after one race.