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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Where the 16 NASCAR Playoff Drivers Compare Now

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Heading into Michigan this week, there are just four races remaining in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season.

And once the regular season is complete next month, the 16-driver playoff lineup will be set. Here’s how the 16 drivers currently playoff eligible compare right now.

Martin Truex Jr., 4 wins, 34 playoff points

No one has embraced the stage-racing system like Truex and Furniture Row Racing. Truex already has more than double the playoff points of any other driver. He’ll pick up another 15 playoff points for winning the regular season title, which makes him a virtual lock to make it to the championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, 16 playoff points

In his last five races, Johnson’s average finish is 28.2. But don’t let that fool you; he’s always a threat to win come playoff time. Still, just like last year at this time, Hendrick Motorsports is down on speed.

Kyle Larson, 2 wins, 13 playoff points

Red-hot early in the season, Larson has finished 22nd or worse five times in the last seven races. Not a good trend for the driver or for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Brad Keselowski, 2 wins, 13 playoff points

The 2012 champion has had a decent season so far, but right now he and his Team Penske Fords seem to be running for best-in-class behind the dominant Toyotas.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2 wins, 10 playoff points

Since winning at Daytona in July, Stenhouse hasn’t finished better than 14th in any of the next five races.

Kyle Busch, 1 win, 14 playoff points

All year long, Busch has had blazing speed, leading 1,135 laps in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. But he’s only won one race, which frankly is surprising. 

Kevin Harvick, 1 win, 8 playoff points

The longer the season goes on, the more apparent it becomes that Stewart-Haas Racing’s switchover to Ford this season was a taxing endeavor.

Denny Hamlin, 1 win, 7 playoff points

So far in 2018, Hamlin has been very good, but not quite as fast as his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr.

Ryan Blaney, 1 win, 8 playoff points

With a great run at Watkins Glen, Blaney nearly won his second race of the season. He’ll move to Team Penske next year. 

Kurt Busch, 1 win, 5 playoff points

The good news for Busch is that he won the Daytona 500. The bad news is that he’s led only 6 laps all year and Stewart-Haas Racing didn’t pick up his option for 2018.

Ryan Newman, 1 win, 5 playoff points

Winning at Phoenix broke a 127-race winless streak for Newman and a 112-race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing.

Kasey Kahne, 1 win, 5 playoff points

Yes, Kahne won the Brickyard 400, but he won’t be back at Hendrick Motorsports next season.

Austin Dillon, 1 win, 5 playoff points

It’s a good thing for Dillon that he won the Coca-Cola 600 in May because he’s all the way back in 21st in points, worst of any playoff driver.

Chase Elliott, 0 wins, 2 playoff points

Although Elliott is tops in points among winless drivers, his margin is razor-thin: He leads Jamie McMurray by just 5 points and bubble driver Matt Kenseth by 11 points.

Jamie McMurray, 0 wins, 0 playoff points

The fact that McMurray is the only one of the 16 drivers currently playoff eligible who doesn’t have any playoff points does not bode well for his chances in the final 10 races of the year. 

Matt Kenseth, 0 wins, 2 playoff points

The current bubble driver leads Clint Bowyer by 28 points. Kenseth has to hope no one behind him in points scores his first win of the season in the next four races.

All article photos courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography © 2017 


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Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen is a veteran motorsports journalist. He spent 13 years with, where he was Digital Content Manager. Previously, he was executive editor of NASCAR Scene and managing editor of National Speed Sport News. Jensen served as the president of the National Motorsports Press Association and is the group’s former Writer of the Year.