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NASCAR CUP SERIES REGULAR-SEASON FINALE SET TO PROVIDE DRAMA, DETERMINE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS
FORT WORTH, Texas (September 8, 2017)
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway this Saturday will narrow the field of championship contenders to 16.
The final race of the regular season (6:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: SiriusXM Radio, MRN) promises to provide drama with three drivers currently on the playoff bubble and a slew of others, including some of NASCAR’s biggest names in Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Chase Elliott looking to secure the final spot.
NASCAR has placed a premium on winning with a victory guaranteeing a driver a berth in the playoffs. Thirteen drivers have punched their ticket with wins, leaving three spots up for grabs at Richmond.
The introduction of the stage formats and debut of playoff points this season has added another layer to the post-season drama. One playoff point is awarded for a stage win and five points for a race win during the regular season and playoffs, excluding the championship race.
Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. has clinched the regular-season championship as a result of his four victories, earning him 15 playoff points. Additional playoff points are awarded to the second through 10th-place finishers in the standings following Saturday’s race. Second place earns 10 playoff points, third receives eight and the points decrease by one to 10th.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin Sunday, Sept. 17, at Chicagoland Speedway and include a stop at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 5. The AAA Texas 500 is the second of three races in the Round of 8 and has historically played a pivotal role in determining the champion, which will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 19.
Here is the playoff outlook for the field and their playoff-clinching scenarios.
Drivers locked in the playoffs as a result of a victory this season: Martin Truex Jr. (4 wins); Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson (3 wins); Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski (2 wins); Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick (1 win).
A mere three points separate the final three playoff contenders. The three drivers are currently safe from elimination, but a victory from a driver that is currently winless will put one of them on the outside.
Drivers on the playoff bubble with their clinching scenarios:
Chase Elliott (737 Points) – Would clinch on points with 53 points despite a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, Elliott would clinch on points, regardless of finish. With a win, Elliott would clinch a playoff berth on wins.
Matt Kenseth (735 Points) – If there is a repeat winner, Kenseth would clinch on points regardless of finish. With a win, the former Cup Series champ would clinch a playoff spot on wins. He could clinch on points with a new winner, but would need help.
Jamie McMurray (734 Points) – If there is a repeat winner, McMurray would clinch on points regardless of finish. With a win, McMurray would clinch a playoff spot on wins. He could clinch on points with a new winner, but would need help.
Drivers needing a win to advance include:
Earnhardt Jr., Logano, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Logano, Daniel Suarez, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher, Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger, Danica Patrick and David Ragan.
NASCAR returns to Texas Motor Speedway for a tripleheader weekend Nov. 3-5 that features the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500, XFINITY Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 and Camping World Truck Series Longhorn 350. Tickets for all three races are still available by calling the ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.