With six races remaining in the regular season, any Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver not currently sitting on the playoff grid should consider themselves in “must-win” mode.
The points gap is just too much to overcome.
For one week after Kentucky Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looked like he had a chance to point his way into the playoffs because a bad night by Alex Bowman left his advantage to just nine. But after Sunday’s race in New Hampshire, the playoff drivers have again increased their advantages on the cutoff line.
At the top, a sixth win for Kevin Harvick gives him five more playoff points. He again leads the series in the category and moves to the top of the playoff grid. However, Kyle Busch continues to lead the overall point standings and has his hands on the additional 15 playoff points it brings.
Playoff grid after New Hampshire:
Kevin Harvick: 6 race wins, 32 playoff points
Kyle Busch: 5 race wins, 30 playoff points
Martin Truex Jr.: 4 race wins, 26 playoff points
Clint Bowyer: 2 race wins, 10 playoff points
Joey Logano: 1 race win, 7 playoff points,
Erik Jones: 1 race win, 5 playoff points
Austin Dillon: 1 race win, 5 playoff points
Kurt Busch: +221 on cutoff, 2 playoff points
Brad Keselowski: +210 on cutoff, 4 playoff points
Kyle Larson: +181 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Ryan Blaney: +159 on cutoff, 4 playoff points
Denny Hamlin: +158 on cutoff, 2 playoff points
Aric Almirola: +150 on cutoff, 1 playoff point
Jimmie Johnson: +97 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Chase Elliott: +95 on cutoff, 1 playoff points
Alex Bowman: +28 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Behind Stenhouse below the cutoff line is Paul Menard (-29), Ryan Newman (-74) and Daniel Suarez (-94).