If both Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney don’t want to enter the Round of 8 with such a large gap and almost already be forced to a must-win situation over the three race third round, they need to accumulate as many playoff points as they can this weekend in Kansas.
See, we know both will be advancing to the next round via their victories in each of the last two weeks. Larson, won at Dover while Blaney won in Talladega. Throw in the advantage that the trio of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have currently as well as Kevin Harvick’s gap to the playoff bubble, and you pretty much know six of the eight driver who will be racing for the championship still starting next week in Martinsville.
But, look at their playoff points too.
Kyle Busch has the most scored at 46. Martin Truex Jr. would be next at 42. Denny Hamlin has 31. Kevin Harvick has 28. Should he advance, Joey Logano has 29.
Where this makes a difference is, the points are reset again once Sunday’s race ends. The eight remaining drivers will all start at the same amount of points (4,000). Then, the playoff points are bonus points added on top of that.
So, Busch, will be first with 4,046 points. Truex, would be second at 4,042. Hamlin would be third at 4,031. With only four spots moving onto the Championship 4, if Logano makes it by, he would hold onto it at 4,029. If he doesn’t, then that spot would go to Harvick at 4,028.
How many does Larson and Blaney have?
11 and nine respectively.
So, we know then that if they don’t get any stage wins or neither wins Sunday’s race, then they’d at the very least be 17 points down for Larson 19 arrears for Blaney.
That’s a lot of points to make up to championship caliber drivers in a three week span. So, for these two, with seven playoff points on the line this weekend, they need as many as they can get.
A race win nets someone five playoff points and a stage win gets an extra point for each. Larson and Blaney have to hope they can score those stage wins and one reach victory lane, or if Busch, Truex, Hamlin, Harvick or Logano score more, then that gap grows wider.