NASCAR Playoffs: Preview and Predictions

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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.

Martin Truex Jr.
Lasco Press Photo

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.

Round Advancement

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)
11th 26
12th 25
13th 24
14th 23
15th 22
16th 21
17th 20
18th 19
19th 18
20th 17
21st 16
22nd 15
23rd 14
24th 13
25th 12
26th 11
27th 10
28th 9
29th 8
30th 7
31st 6
32nd 5
33rd 4
34th 3
35th 2
36th 1
37th 1
38th 1
39th 1
40th 1

 

Predictions

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.

Email: steve@thelascopress.com

Follow on Twitter: @steve_tlpress