Finally, it’s time. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs start this Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. The 16 driver’s who qualified will begin to battle it out to see who is ultimately crowned the new NASCAR Cup Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Here are the participants and the round by round breakdown. (Courtesy of printableteamschedules.com)
What You Need to Know
Four rounds, four drivers eliminated after each round. One race for the Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway November 19th. The highest finishing driver of the final four is crowned the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
All drivers start the Championship run with 2,000 points. The Playoff points earned during the regular season are added on to that total. The Playoff Standings as of the start.
|POSITION||DRIVER (Car Number)||POINTS|
|1||Martin Truex Jr. (78)||2053|
|2||Kyle Larson (42)||2033|
|3||Kyle Busch (18)||2029|
|4||Brad Keselowski (2)||2019|
|5||Jimmie Johnson (48)||2017|
|6||Kevin Harvick (4)||2015|
|7||Denny Hamlin (11)||2013|
|8||Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17)||2010|
|9||Ryan Blaney (21)||2008|
|10||Chase Elliott (24)||2006|
|11||Ryan Newman (31)||2005|
|12||Kurt Busch (41)||2005|
|13||Kasey Kahne (5)||2005|
|14||Austin Dillon (3)||2005|
|15||Matt Kenseth (17)||2005|
|16||Jamie McMurray (1)||2003|
Playoff Points are still earned during playoff races. One point for each stage win, and five points for each race win. These points are added to regular season playoff points earned and carry through to each round. All driver’s advancing earn additional points at the beginning of each round.
For example, if Martin Truex Jr. earns three stage wins and a race win during the first round of the playoffs. That will earn him an additional eight playoff points. Added to the 53 he earned during the regular season he will start the second round of the playoffs with 61 playoff points. All drivers advancing to the second round will start with 3,000 points, plus the total playoff points earned to date. So, Truex would begin round two with 3,061 points.
How do drivers advance through each round of the playoffs? First, win a race. A race win in any round of the playoffs automatically advances a driver to the next round. Second, don’t be one of the four drivers at the bottom of the point standings at the end of each round.
Points are still awarded in the same manner they were during regular season races. Stage points are added to the first 10 finishers in each stage. With 10 points for first, nine points for second, down to one point for 10th. Race points are added for the final positioning in each race. These points are added to the playoff points earned. With total points determining where drivers place at the end of each round.
During the regular season, the most points a driver could win a race was 60. Two stage wins at 10 points each and a race win for 40 points. During the playoffs, those additional 7 playoff points (one each for a stage win and 5 for a race win) increase the potential to 67 points.
|FINISHING POSITION (Stage Finish)||POINTS AWARDED (Stage Points)|
|1st (1st)||40 (10)|
|2nd (2nd)||35 (9)|
|3rd (3rd)||34 (8)|
|4th (4th)||33 (7)|
|5th (5th)||32 (6)|
|6th (6th)||31 (5)|
|7th (7th)||30 (4)|
|8th (8th)||29 (3)|
|9th (9th)||28 (2)|
|10th (10th)||27 (1)|
How important are those playoff points? Martin Truex Jr. is almost assured of advancing to the final round in Homestead. For him to be eliminated, three different playoff contenders would have to win the three races in an individual round. Or, Truex would have to suffer a complete reversal of fortune and finish 36th or worse in each race of an individual round. Then he still might advance depending on what other playoff drivers did. It will be exciting watching the point totals fluctuate through the course of each race.
Therefore our predictions for the final four competing for the Championship. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski. Kyle Busch just misses out.
The first four out? Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne, and Jamie McMurray. The next four to drop from contention? Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, and Ryan Newman.
Send us your predictions, we will keep score.
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