With 10 races remaining in the regular season the battle to make the playoffs has taken shape, and it involves a big name at the bottom of the grid.
With a seventh-place finish at Sonoma, the final spot on the grid now belongs to Ryan Newman. However, he holds just a one-point margin on seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who has spent much of this season trying to climb out of the basement. This is unfamiliar territory for Johnson, who has the distinct honor of saying he’s made the playoffs every year since their inception (2004).
Kyle Larson gave himself more of a buffer on Johnson by finally earning a top-10 finish at Sonoma. William Byron can also breathe a little bit easier as he now looks ahead at three Stewart-Haas Racing drivers.
Via wins, six drivers have clinched a spot in the postseason and sit atop the playoff grid. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. continue to trade wins and are keeping pace with each other when it comes to valuable playoff points. Both drivers know how much those points can come in handy to assure advancement in the playoffs.
Then in the middle of the grid is Kevin Harvick, still holding onto the “best of the rest” category. The first driver on the grid without a win, Harvick has been consistent enough this season when it comes to collecting points and he has built a nice points gap on the cutoff line.
Here is the playoff grid as it currently stands, with a reminder the grid will be reseeded at the end of the regular season when additional points are awarded to the top 10. Joey Logano is the overall championship point leader.
Kyle Busch: 4 race wins, 25 playoff points
Martin Truex Jr.: 4 race wins, 22 playoff points
Brad Keselowski: 3 race wins, 19 playoff points
Joey Logano: 2 race wins, 16 playoff points
Denny Hamlin: 2 race wins, 12 playoff points
Chase Elliott: 1 race win, 7 playoff points
Kevin Harvick: +183 on cutoff, 3 playoff points
Kurt Busch: +119 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Ryan Blaney: + 78 on cutoff, 2 playoff points
Alex Bowman: +70 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Aric Almirola: +70 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Clint Bowyer: +40 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Daniel Suarez: +31 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
William Byron: +29 on cutoff, 1 playoff point
Kyle Larson: +18 on cutoff, 3 playoff points
Ryan Newman: +1 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Below the cutoff line is Jimmie Johnson (-1), Erik Jones (-5), Paul Menard (-38), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-43).