In the second year of NASCAR’s new playoff format, many familiar driver names occupy the top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.
Regular-season champ Kyle Busch, the 2015 series champion, held a slight lead in the NASCAR standings heading into the first playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch and Kevin Harvick entered the postseason with 50 playoff points each.
Here’s a look at each race in the 2018 NASCAR playoff schedule:
|Sept. 16 – Round of 16 begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Winner: Brad Keselowski)|
|Sept. 22 – Richmond (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)|
|Sept. 30 – Charlotte (cutoff race, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)|
|Oct. 7 – Round of 12 begins at Dover (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN)|
|Oct. 14 – Talladega (2 p.m. ET, NBC)|
|Oct. 21 – Kansas (cutoff race, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)|
|Oct. 28 – Round of 8 begins at Martinsville (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)|
|Nov. 4 – Texas (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)|
|Nov. 11 – Phoenix (cutoff race, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)|
|Nov. 18 – Championship 4 at Homestead (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)|
Here is how the 2018 NASCAR playoff standings look after the first of 10 postseason races:
|1. MARTIN TRUEX JR., 2,087|
|2. KYLE BUSCH, 2,085|
|3. BRAD KESELOWSKI, 2,069|
|4. KEVIN HARVICK, 2,060|
|5. JOEY LOGANO, 2,056|
|6. KURT BUSCH, 2,046|
|7. RYAN BLANEY, 2,042|
|8. KYLE LARSON, 2,041|
|9. ARIC ALMIROLA, 2,034|
|10. AUSTIN DILLON, 2031|
|11. CLINT BOWYER, 2029|
|12. ALEX BOWMAN, 2028|
|13. JIMMIE JOHNSON, 2022|
|14. CHASE ELLIOTT, 2019|
|15. ERIK JONES, 2009|
|16. DENNY HAMLIN, 2008|
The simplest way to advance in the NASCAR playoff bracket is to win a race. If you win, you will move on to the next round. The 10 playoff events will feature stage racing, with playoff bonus points up for grabs that drivers can take to the next round.
To start the playoffs, all point totals are reset to 2,000 for the 16 playoff drivers, and drivers who earned bonus points during the regular season have those added to their total. Points will be reset again before the Round of 12 and Round of 8. The Championship 4 drivers will have their points totals reset to 5,000 each for the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After three playoff races (Sept. 30 at Charlotte), four drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs. After another three races (Oct. 21 at Kansas), another four will be eliminated based on points, then again at Phoenix on Nov. 11 until four drivers remain.