Nothing beats playoff racing. The NASCAR Southern 500 rang in the beginning of the Cup Series playoffs. In a race filled with cautions and spinouts, drivers were lucky just to make their way around the track. Drivers like Michael McDowell were not so lucky and had their day ended early due to wrecks. Denny Hamlin ultimately took the checkered flag, setting the tone early.
With the race finished, the points have been distributed. Hamlin takes the win so he gets his ticket punched to the next round anyway. For the rest of the field, every point counts. The top-13 drivers met or exceeded the cut line for points. McDowell found himself at 16th with 2,006 points, 20 below the line. Here is a list of those 16 drivers and their current playoff standings.
There were some impressive showings out of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs field. Kyle Larson, the regular-season champion gave Hamlin a great race towards the end. Further down, Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch were in and out of the top-5 throughout the race but ended up turning in great results. However, not everything went well for the top-16.
Those who are currently below the cutoff include Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Will Byron, and McDowell. There are two races left before the cut is made. However, making it to that top-12 will be hard with so many talented drivers in the field.
One driver not in the playoff field, Ross Chastain put up a great effort in the Southern 500. By finishing in third, he earned his third top-5 finish of the season. He had his postseason hopes dashed at Daytona.
NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Heads to Richmond Raceway for 9/11
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are headed to Richmond Raceway. It will be a battle/ The Salute to American Heroes 400 will start at 7:30 PM EST. Those drivers that are out of the top-12 will be looking to make a big splash. For Michael McDowell, it will be a hard climb to get out of the 20-point deficit following the Southern 500. However, when they line up and start those engines, anything is possible.
Richmond Raceway is going to feature a battle up front, regardless of who it is. One name to look out for, Ryan Blaney. He took the last two regular-season individual wins in Michigan and at Daytona. It looked like he was setting himself up for another top last night, but a brake issue took the opportunity away. Kevin Harvick is back in 7th now, but he has had some strong showing recently and should be back for more. Of course, the regular-season champ, Kyle Larson will always be in that top-5 mix.