The Goodyear 400 at Darlington marked the halfway point in the season and the NASCAR standings are really taking shape now. There wasn’t a change in leaders this week but there was some movement in the top-5 and in the top-16 as drivers look to pick up stage points and put themselves in a position to make the playoffs.
Once again, Ross Chastain is leading the NASCAR point standings. He doesn’t have as much of a lead as he had last week, but he remains 27 points up on second place, Christopher Bell. The two sit at 429 points and 402 points, respectively.
Chastain picked up a stage win and managed to get a DNF in the process. Oh and pissed off Rick Hendrick. But he holds onto his lead.
Kevin Harvick made a big move with his P2 finish after the restart drama. While his No. 4 Sunny Delight Ford Mustang was damaged, he got it across the line. The Closer moves from fifth to third with a 42-point pickup at Darlington to give him 400 points even this week.
Denny Hamlin is not far behind Harvick. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has 393 points to put him ahead of fifth place William Byron. Byron won the race and comes into the top-5 with 387 points after picking up 54 during the Goodyear 400. With three wins he is in the playoffs. However, Byron could still compete for a regular-season points championship.
There has been some interesting movement further down the NASCAR standings, as well.
NASCAR drivers move into playoff contention in point standings
There have been some drivers that have had to battle to the top-16. This season there have been plenty of winners. However, it might not play out like it did last year. If we don’t have 16 individual winners, then some drivers will make the playoffs off of points. Guys like Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suárez and Bubba Wallace are all fighting on the edge of that group.
The big winner out of this fringe group was definitely Wallace. He once again picked up stage points and made himself go from 18th to 15th in just one week. That’s a big jump.
Meanwhile, Briscoe and Suárez have to figure things out. They have a lot more to worry about than just one or two drivers. Young guys like Ty Gibbs are coming up and laying down consistent results.
The NASCAR standings aren’t as big of a deal as they used to be. With win-and-in playoff formatting and the elimination style of the playoffs, it is a regular-season award. However, it does give the champion a boost into the playoffs. Not to mention, what happens if we don’t have 16 winners this year?
This week is the All-Star Race where no points will be earned. It will all be about that $1,000,000 prize and walking away with a win.