Updated Playoff Standings and Clinch Scenarios

By Toby Christie, Editor — Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie

Man, what a race Bristol Motor Speedway put on. The race had it all. Big crashes, tight battles all night long, and in the end a driver — Kurt Busch — got their first win of the season.

Not only that, but three more drivers — Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson — did enough to secure berths in the Playoff Grid. With two races remaining 12 of the 16 slots have been filled, which leaves four positions for 18 drivers to battle for.

Who is locked in? Who is currently hanging on? And who is on the outside looking in?

You’ve come to the right place.

Here are the driver’s who have already locked themselves into the Playoff grid, and how the standings will look if the points were to reset right now:

Driver Points When Playoffs Start Wins Stage Wins
1. Kevin Harvick 2,050 7* 12
2. Kyle Busch 2,050 6 5
3. Martin Truex Jr. 2,035 4 7
4. Clint Bowyer 2,016 2 0
5. Kurt Busch 2,014 1 2
6. Joey Logano 2,013 1 3
7. Ryan Blaney 2,009 0 5
8. Chase Elliott 2,008 1 3
9. Brad Keselowski 2,007 0 4
10. Erik Jones 2,005 1 0
11. Austin Dillon 2,005 1 0
12. Kyle Larson 2,002 0 1*

That is the field of drivers currently locked into the Playoffs, but what about those that are still in position to make it into the Playoffs currently?

Here are those drivers, along with their points above the cut line, as well as clinch scenarios:

Driver Points Above Cut Line How To Clinch
Denny Hamlin 214
  • Win a race

To Clinch at Darlington

  • Be ahead of 15th in the standings by more than 59 points.

To Clinch at Indianapolis

  • Keep either Johnson or Almirola behind him in points
  • If he falls behind Johnson and Almirola in the standings, as long as there aren’t two lower ranked winners.
Aric Almirola 165
  • Win a race

To Clinch at Darlington

  • Be more than 59 points ahead of 15th in the standings.

To Clinch at Indianapolis

  • Stay ahead of Johnson and Bowman in the standings
  • Stay ahead of either Johnson or Bowman and hope that one or less driver lower in the rankings wins a race.
Jimmie Johnson 111
  • Win a race
  • Move ahead of Almirola in the standings
  • Stay ahead of Bowman in points and hope one or less drivers lower in points wins a race.
  • Fall below Bowman in points, and no drivers lower in standings wins a race.
Alex Bowman 79
  • Win a race
  • Pass Johnson and Almirola in points
  • Pass Johnson or Almirola in points and hope one or less driver lower in standings wins a race.
  • Stay ahead of Stenhouse, Newman, Suarez and Menard in standings and hope nobody lower in points wins a race.

Here are the remaining drivers who can still bump their way into the Playoff grid by way of winning. (Stenhouse, Newman, Suarez and Menard also still have an outside shot of out-pointing Bowman). I have included each driver’s best career finish at Darlington and Indianapolis (the two races remaining before the Playoffs begin).

Driver Best Darlington Finish Best Indy Finish
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 18th (twice) 12th (2016)
Ryan Newman 2nd (2002) 1st (2013)
Daniel Suarez 38th (2017) 7th (2017)
Paul Menard 13th (2012) 1st (2011)
William Byron n/a n/a
Jamie McMurray 2nd (2010) 1st (2010)
Chris Buescher 17th (twice) 9th (2017)
AJ Allmendinger 15th (2014) 10th (twice)
David Ragan 5th (2008) 14th (2008)
Bubba Wallace n/a n/a
Kasey Kahne 3rd (2005) 1st (2017)
Michael McDowell 19th (2017) 18th (2017)
Ty Dillon 13th (2017) 19th (2017)
Matt DiBenedetto 25th (2015) 8th (2017)

As you can see, there are a few previous winners at Darlington and Indianapolis, who are driving decent rides (Newman, Menard and McMurray). There are also some rookie wild cards as well (Byron, Wallace).

The next two races should be quite intense, and very interesting.

Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images