INDIANAPOLIS – After clinching the regular-season championship a week early at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Kyle Busch officially secured the No. 1 seed for the Monster Energy NASAR Cup Series playoffs on Sunday.
Despite an engine failure that took him out of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard and left him with a 37th-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch collected the 15 playoff points that came with earning the most points during the first 26 races of the Cup Series season.
As such, he’ll start next week’s playoff opener at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway with 2,045 points – most in the 16-driver postseason field – on the strength of four race wins and 10 stage victories.
Both of those marks lead the league in their respective statistical categories.
While Busch, who will carry a 15-point lead over second place, enjoys a healthy margin atop the standings for now, he’ll have two of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates chasing him early on.
Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. earned the second and third seeds, respectively, for the 10-race playoff run. Both had four race wins during the regular season, though neither could match Busch’s prowess in stages over the first 26 rounds of the 2019 campaign.
Hamlin will head to Las Vegas with 2,030 points, while Truex sits just one point behind Hamlin at 2,029.
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano tied for the fourth seed, with Harvick getting the nod by having more wins than Logano.
Each has 2,028 points, but Harvick’s third win of the year Sunday lifted him over Logano’s two.
Sixth-seeded Brad Keselowski sits on 2,024 points, six more than Chase Elliott, the seventh seed who earned two wins during the regular season.
Kentucky winner Kurt Busch rounds off the top half of the playoff field, with 2,011 points and the No. 8 seed to his name. Ninth and 10th seeded Alex Bowman and Erik Jones were both single winners during the regular season, the lowest among the drivers to guarantee their postseason berths with victories.
Both Bowman and Jones will start the playoffs with 2,005 points.
Kyle Larson earned the 11th playoff seed, with four stage wins during the regular season and also having a reset value of 2,005 points thanks to being 10th in points after 26 races, while double stage winner Ryan Blaney ranks 12th in the adjusted standings at 2,004.
William Byron and Aric Almirola sit 13th and 14th with 2,001 points apiece, while the final two drivers to make the playoffs on points – Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman – will roll from the base value of 2,000.
Both Bowyer and Newman will have just a two-point hole to dig out of to get above the cut line, with the top 12 in points escaping the first elimination round following race 27 of the season at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway ROVAL on Sept. 29.
This year’s playoff lineup is notable in that it doesn’t contain seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for the first time in the 16-year history of the playoff format.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin on Sept. 15 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.
Updated Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Point Standings
- Kyle Busch – 2,045
- Denny Hamlin – 2,030
- Martin Truex Jr. – 2,029
- Kevin Harvick – 2,028
- Joey Logano – 2,028
- Brad Keselowski – 2,024
- Chase Elliott – 2,018
- Kurt Busch – 2,011
- Alex Bowman – 2,005
- Erik Jones – 2,005
- Kyle Larson – 2,005
- Ryan Blaney – 2,004
- William Byron – 2,001
- Aric Almirola – 2,001
- Clint Bowyer – 2,000
- Ryan Newman – 2,000