We all talk about how playoff points could come into play in NASCAR’s postseason, but never do we really factor them once the playoffs start. See, the reason the top drivers have the playoff points that they do is because they’re on top of their game. If you get a lot of playoff points accumulated, it’s because you’ve won a lot of races and/or stages.
You get five playoff points for each race win and one for each stage win. So for drivers like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano to have scored 46 and 30 respectively, it wasn’t like it was a fluke for them to have that much.
Even in past year, the guys with the most playoff points still kept going in the postseason. Busch, Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick have been known to accumulate a large amount of them, then roll though the playoffs by winning and not having to rely on their banked playoff points.
This year though has been different.
Martin Truex Jr. has scored 42 of them, but he had less than 30 coming into the playoffs. He scored 10 of those 42 in two wins in the opening round. Then, he was runner-up at Dover in the first race of the second round and in Kansas to easily skate by and not have to rely on his points.
Kevin Harvick has scored four top seven finishes in six tries this postseason. Why rely on his 28 playoff points scored so far?
Denny Hamlin has now 37 playoff points but also has four top five finishes in six tries himself.
Those three would have made it to this point off finishes alone. The same can’t be said for Busch or Logano. If they didn’t have the playoff points that they do, they may not have made it out of the first round.
Busch’s playoff finishes have been 19th, second, 37th, sixth, 19th and third respectively. He’s only had five top five finishes in his last 14 starts on the season.
If you think that’s bad, look at Logano’s numbers.
His playoff finishes have been – ninth, 11th, 10th, 34th, 11th and 17th respectively. The defending series champion only has one top five finish in his last 15 starts on the season. Furthermore, nine of his last 12 races have been him finish outside of the top 10.
By comparison, Alex Bowman had three top six finishes in six playoff starts. He’s been eliminated. Brad Keselowski had five top five finishes over his last nine starts on the season He’s been eliminated. Ryan Newman has three top 10’s including two of those being in the top five, one of which being a runner-up. He’s been eliminated. Clint Bowyer has four top 10’s, all coming in his last five starts on the season. He’s been eliminated.
Meanwhile, Logano and Busch are still fighting for the title. That’s because of their large amounts of playoff points scored in comparison to everyone else.
Newman had zero playoff points. Bowyer had one. Bowman had five.
This is the first year we can really see how the playoff points accumulated in the regular season can help.