Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
GALLERY: Playoff Picture After New Hampshire
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff picture took an interesting turn with Denny Hamlin’s victory in Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hamlin, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota, became the 12th different winner so far this season, although Joey Logano’s victory at Richmond Raceway doesn’t count in the playoff standings because of post-race inspection issues.
Following Sunday’s race, there are now just seven races left in the Cup regular season. Once the regular season concludes, the 16-driver field will be set for NASCAR’s playoffs. Here are the 16 drivers who are currently playoff eligible.
Martin Truex Jr., 3 wins, 29 playoff points
Truex will have a huge advantage when the playoffs start because of the points he’s already amassed. And in the next seven races, the Furniture Row Racing driver could add a whole lot more.
Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, 16 playoff points
The seven-time champion has had an up-and-down season, but we all know how good he is when the playoffs roll around. He is also one of just two drivers with three victories already in 2017.
Kyle Larson, 2 wins, 13 playoff points
In addition to his victories at Auto Club Speedway and Michigan International Speedway, Larson has an amazing seven runner-up finishes in just 19 races this season.
Brad Keselowski, 2 wins, 13 playoff points
Early in the season, Keselowski and Team Penske were especially strong. In the last eight races, though, Keselowski has finished 31st or worse four times.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2 wins, 10 playoff points
Is there a bigger surprise this year than Stenhouse earning his first two career Cup victories, both coming at restrictor-plate tracks? Stenhouse has helped make Roush Fenway Racing relevant again.
Kevin Harvick, 1 win, 8 playoff points
The 2014 series champion has had consistent speed virtually since the time he joined Stewart-Haas Racing, and the team seems to have done a good job adapting to the change to Fords.
Denny Hamlin, 1 win, 7 playoff points
Even without the New Hampshire win, Hamlin likely would have made the playoffs on points anyway. But his big victory on Sunday eliminates all doubt that he’ll race for a title.
Ryan Blaney, 1 win, 8 playoff points
A victory last month at Pocono means Blaney will make the playoffs in just his second full season and Wood Brothers Racing will be in for the first time ever.
Kurt Busch, 1 win, 5 playoff points
It’s been an odd year for Busch, who won his first Daytona 500 by leading only the final lap, but hasn’t earned any other playoff points since then.
Ryan Newman, 1 win, 5 playoff points
A savvy gamble on pit strategy at Phoenix Raceway broke a 127-race winless streak for Newman and a 112-race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing.
Austin Dillon, 1 win, 5 playoff points
Last year, Martin Truex Jr. won the Coca-Cola 600 by leading 392 of 400 laps. This year, Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 by leading only the final 2 laps.
Kyle Busch, 0 wins, 5 playoff points
As well as he’s run at times this season, it’s hard to believe Busch hasn’t won a race yet.
Chase Elliott, 0 wins, 2 playoff points
In his second year, Elliott has consistently finished well, but his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets seem to lack a little in speed.
Jamie McMurray, 0 wins, o playoff points
While McMurray has run well this season, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson has put up bigger numbers.
Clint Bowyer, 0 wins, o playoff points
One of three Stewart-Haas Racing drivers currently playoff eligible, Bowyer is looking for his first race win since Charlotte in the fall of 2012.
Matt Kenseth, o wins, 2 playoff points
The bad news for Kenseth is he’s the driver on the playoff bubble right now. The good news is he’s 52 points ahead of Joey Logano, who is the first driver outside looking in.
All photos courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography © 2017