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Analysis: The impact of .007 seconds on entire playoff field – NASCAR

Analysis: The impact of .007 seconds on entire playoff field – NASCAR
15 Oct
7:13

Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman sped toward the start/finish line at Talladega Superspeedway, the fate of the entire NASCAR Playoffs field hanging in the balance.

When the No. 12 Ford of Blaney beat Newman’s No. 6 Ford to the start/finish line by .007 seconds — the sixth-closest finish in NASCAR history — the entire postseason field got an upheaval.

Blaney, who entered the day 12th among 12 drivers in the NASCAR Playoffs standings and 22 points behind the cutline, clinched an automatic berth into the Round of 8. Here’s how he shook up the playoff picture, and also how things would have been different if Blaney was .008 seconds slower and finished second.

RELATED: Blaney joins ‘clutch’ list

Playoffs standings: Blaney wins

Because he won at Talladega, Blaney is automatically in the Round of 8. We’ll put him at the top of the pile here, along with Kyle Larson, who won at Dover.

That’s important because Blaney, in terms of the actual points standings, is ranked ninth among the 12 playoff drivers.

Winning really does mean everything in this format.

Because Blaney, who otherwise would have been below the cutline, has advanced to the Round of 8, the outlook is much more severe to the four drivers currently below it. While they don’t mathematically face a must-win at Kansas, they probably do need a victory — or a very strong showing, and on-track issues for those above the cutline — to advance.

MORE: How ‘Dega shook up the playoffs

Driver Points Cutline
Kyle Larson WIN (Dover) ADVANCED
Ryan Blaney WIN (Talladega) ADVANCED
Denny Hamlin 3,114 +56
Martin Truex Jr. 3,106 +48
Kyle Busch 3,099 +41
Kevin Harvick 3,094 +36
Brad Keselowski 3,078 +20
Joey Logano 3,076 +18
Alex Bowman 3,058 -18
Chase Elliott 3,054 -22
Clint Bowyer 3,052 -24
William Byron 3,049 -27

Playoffs standings: What if?

What if Ryan Blaney was .008 seconds slower? That’s about the blink of an eye, but with racing in the draft at Talladega, it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario in which Newman held Blaney off by a razor-thin margin.

So, what happens then? A lot, actually.

Most importantly, Blaney would not get an automatic berth into the Round of 8 for finishing second at Talladega. The standings and bubble would look vastly different.

We plugged Blaney into the playoff field wondering what if and came up with the look below — remember, if Blaney had finished second instead of first, he would have earned 35 points for his second-place finish (not the 40 he received for his actual win). That’s reflected below.

Driver Points Cutline
Kyle Larson WIN (Dover) ADVANCED
Denny Hamlin 3,114 +60
Martin Truex Jr. 3,106 +52
Kyle Busch 3,099 +45
Kevin Harvick 3,094 +40
Brad Keselowski 3,078 +24
Joey Logano 3,076 +22
Alex Bowman 3,058 +4
Chase Elliott 3,054 -4
Clint Bowyer 3,052 -6
Ryan Blaney 3,051 -7
William Byron 3,049 -9

Not only is Blaney below the cutline, but drivers like Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer and William Byron would face much more pleasant scenarios at Kansas.

A split-second win has a huge impact on the entire field. But those below the cutline in either scenario can follow the Blaney template for getting to the Round of 8.

Just win.

Source: https://www.nascar.com/news-media/2019/10/15/analysis-impact-ryan-blaney-talladega-win-nascar-playoffs/

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