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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch leads 16-driver playoff field into postseason opener at Las Vegas

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – SEPTEMBER 08: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Acorns Ford, Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 McDonald’s Chevrolet, Erik Jones, driver of the #20 STANLEY Wish For Our Heros Toyota, William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr, driver of the #19 AOI Toyota, Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Rush/Cummins Ford, Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Wabash National Ford, Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield/Meijer Ford, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 08, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


Even though Kyle Busch blew an engine on lap 87 of the 160-lap Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard and wound up 37th in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale, after the race, he was named the regular-season champion for the second-consecutive year. Busch actually clinched the honor a week earlier in the Bojangles’ Souther 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Due, in part, to four wins in the 26-race regular season, Busch gained 15 playoff points by virtue of being regular-season champ and leads the 16-driver playoff field into the post season Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

All four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers made the playoffs, with Busch joined by teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin, also both four-race winners, and Erik Jones, who won at Darlington.

Team Penske also put all three of its teams in the playoffs, Brad Keselowski and reigning champ Joey Logano with race wins and Ryan Blaney by pointing his way in.

Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports fell one driver short of putting its entire four-driver stable in the playoffs. The one HMS driver on the outside looking in is seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who missed the playoffs for the first time in his storied career. Johnson wound up outside the top-30 at Indianapolis after getting caught up in a wreck.

“It’s really disappointing,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we had a bad 25 races that led to the position we’re in here today, and we needed a stellar day.”

Daniel Suarez was the other driver with a chance of pointing his way into the playoffs at Indianapolis but falling short at Indy. He headed into the regular-season finale 16th in the standings, in a tie with Ryan Newman. Newman, though, finished higher and scored more points than Suarez at the Brickyard As a result, Newman garnered the final playoff spot instead of Suarez.

“I guess if you look at our roster there are more new people on our team together for the first time than all the other teams put together,” Newman said. “I am proud that we were able to take that and use our collective experience of our own knowledge from places and things we have done and turn that into a playoff position. Now, we just have to do something with it.”

Fourteen drivers already had clinched their playoff berths heading into Indianapolis. The other driver not already locked in was Clint Bowyer. Bowyer, though, was able to maintain the 15th position in the standings he held pre-race, so he advanced, along with Newman.

The 16-driver 2019 playoff field includes Busch, Hamlin, Truex, Kevin Harvick, Logano, Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Jones, Kyle Larson, Blaney, William Byron, Aric Almirola, Bowyer and Newman.

NASCAR has reset the driver points, heading into the playoffs, putting the playoff drivers at a base 2000, plus playoff points earned throughout the regular season. To see the standings, heading into the playoffs, CLICK HERE.

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Posted by on September 10, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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