NASCAR playoff bubble: Updated Cup Series points standings after Michigan races

Even though Kevin Harvick had the edge in regular-season points, Denny Hamlin and his then series-high five wins entered the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader weekend at Michigan International Speedway with the lead in NASCAR Cup Series championship points.

And even through Hamlin ran well in both Michigan races, he was jumped by Harvick in both championship points and wins in the span of one weekend.

Harvick’s sweep of the Michigan races padded what was already an impressive playoff resume. Other drivers who entered the weekend on the NASCAR Cup Series playoff bubble weren’t as fortunate. Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson and Tyler Reddick are close but still on the outside looking into the NASCAR playoff picture after the Michigan races.

Below is a look at the NASCAR playoff picture with four races, including a doubleheader at Dover and a pair of events at Daytona, remaining before the playoffs are scheduled to start in September.

NASCAR playoff bubble

Ten drivers have won races in 2020 and clinched spots in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. With four races remaining in the regular season, that means there won’t be more than 14 race winners in 2020, so all race winners will make the postseason.

Below is the list of drivers who have not won races in 2020 and are currently sitting on what can be considered the NASCAR playoff bubble. It surprisingly includes defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who is now on a 22-race winless streak.

NASCAR points standings

Harvick swept the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Michigan to pad his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings through 22 races. His lead over Brad Keselowski is 137 points, easily the biggest gap between two drivers this season.

Below are the NASCAR Cup Series points standings through Sunday’s race at Michigan.

(* 2020 race winner)

Below is NASCAR’s explanation for how it awards points:

“Each finishing spot in the field earns a driver points, from a maximum of 40 points to the driver who finishes first, down to one point for the driver who finishes 40th. …

“Drivers can earn race points through their performances in Stage 1 and Stage 2. Drivers who are running first through 10th at the conclusion of Stage 1 and/or Stage 2 will receive points, starting with 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, down to one point for 10th place. Points earned in those two stages are then added to what drivers earn after the final stage, which sets the full race results. . . .

“Additionally, a driver can earn bonus playoff points for the following:

“Those points are added on to a driver’s total once the postseason starts. The accumulated playoff points will carry over at the start of the Round of 16, Round of 12 and Round of 8.”

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