The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

‘Pre-glen’ look at postseason


Here’s how the postseason picture looks through 22 regular-season races (out of 26). Note that the cutline sits at 12th place in the regular-season standings since that is the lowest non-winner in the provisiona­l playoff field of 16. 16. Tyler Reddick: 2,001 points Qualified by: Points

Reddick was +96 on the cutline coming into New Hampshire and now he sits +5 on his RCR teammate Austin Dillon. This should be a battle to the finish and regular-season finale at Daytona could produce another wild-card winner and leave them both on the outside looking in. 15. Kevin Harvick: 2,001 points Qualified by: Points

Harvick’s New Hampshire run was a nice reminder that this team is very much a threat on the 750-horsepower tracks. However, the playoffs are far from secure for the 2014 champion, who remains winless and just +82 on the cutline with four races left in the regular season. 14. Aric Almirola: 2,005 points Qualified by: Win (New Hampshire)

Almirola’s season to forget turned on a dime with his victory at New Hampshire, and this will be his fourth straight postseason trip. 13. Michael Mcdowell: 2,005 points Qualified by: Win (Daytona 500)

The Daytona 500 winner may not be the biggest surprise of the playoff picture after Almirola’s win. The veteran’s biggest opportunit­ies on the schedule are the two remaining regular-season road courses and the return to Daytona in August. 12. Christophe­r Bell: 2,005 points Qualified by: Win (Daytona Road)

Bell’s first streak of three straight top 10s in the Cup Series — including two runner-up finishes in that trio of results — have served noticed that this team is rounding into form. 11. Kurt Busch: 2,008 points Qualified by: Win (Atlanta-2)

Busch’s summer hot streak cooled off at New Hampshire, but the win at Atlanta leaves him resting easy. 10. Brad Keselowski: 2,009 points Qualified by: Win (Talladega)

Keselowski’s third-place run at New Hampshire was a welcome sign from a team that had mastered the 750-track package last season. 9. Ryan Blaney: 2,012 points Qualified by: Win (Atlanta)

Blaney now has three top fives and four top-six finishes in his last five races. 8. Joey Logano: 2,014 points Qualified by: Win (Bristol dirt)

Logano could grab several more projected playoff points as he is just minus-16 points to third in the regularsea­son standings where he sits fifth.

7. Alex Bowman: 2,015 points Qualified by: Wins (Richmond, Dover and Pocono)

With eight top-nine finishes in his last 10 races, Bowman has been one of the stronger drivers of late.

6. William Byron: 2,016 points Qualified by: Win (Miami)

Byron is only +16 on sixth place in the regular-season standings — he currently sits fourth.

5. Chase Elliott: 2,016 points Qualified by: Wins (Circuit of The Americas, Road America)

Elliott has a prime opportunit­y to pad his projected playoff point total as he looks to defend his championsh­ip.

4. Denny Hamlin: 2,020 points Qualified by: Points/projected regular-season champion

Hamlin serves as the projected regularsea­son champion, so that adds 15 playoff points to his total. His hold on that spot is tenuous with Kyle Larson (-13 in the regular-season standings) on his heels and the potential loss of five projected playoff points. 3. Kyle Busch: 2,021 points Qualified by: Wins (Kansas and Pocono-2)

A last-place finish was certainly not the result expected from the New Hampshire pole-sitter. The result only cost him one projected playoff point. Given his recent runs at road courses, it’s not hard to imagine him getting that back and then some in the coming weeks. 2. Martin Truex Jr.: 2,023 points Qualified by: Wins (Phoenix, Martinsvil­le and Darlington)

Racking up more playoff points — something Truex didn’t have a bundle of in 2020 — remains a summer goal.

1. Kyle Larson: 2,042 points Qualified by: Wins (Las Vegas, Charlotte, Sonoma and Nashville)

Larson remains within reach of the regular-season championsh­ip (-13 points to Denny Hamlin), which would only add to his playoff point basket. Michigan is his prime opportunit­y on the remaining regular-season schedule, but he should certainly be a factor on the road courses, too.

 ?? (Getty Images) ?? Kye Larson, top seed and current favorite to win the Cup.
(Getty Images) Kye Larson, top seed and current favorite to win the Cup.

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