NASCAR playoff bubble: Updated Cup Series points standings after Michigan races

first_imgEven though Kevin Harvick had the edge in regular-season points, Denny Hamlin and his then series-high five wins entered the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader weekend at Michigan International Speedway with the lead in NASCAR Cup Series championship points.And even through Hamlin ran well in both Michigan races, he was jumped by Harvick in both championship points and wins in the span of one weekend. MORE: Complete results, highlights from Sunday’s raceHarvick’s sweep of the Michigan races padded what was already an impressive playoff resume. Other drivers who entered the weekend on the NASCAR Cup Series playoff bubble weren’t as fortunate. Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson and Tyler Reddick are close but still on the outside looking into the NASCAR playoff picture after the Michigan races.Below is a look at the NASCAR playoff picture with four races, including a doubleheader at Dover and a pair of events at Daytona, remaining before the playoffs are scheduled to start in September.NASCAR playoff bubbleTen drivers have won races in 2020 and clinched spots in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. With four races remaining in the regular season, that means there won’t be more than 14 race winners in 2020, so all race winners will make the postseason.Below is the list of drivers who have not won races in 2020 and are currently sitting on what can be considered the NASCAR playoff bubble. It surprisingly includes defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who is now on a 22-race winless streak.RankDriver+17th/-16th11.Aric Almirola+15812.Kyle Busch+14013.Kurt Busch+13714.Clint Bowyer+6015.Matt DiBenedetto+5716.William Byron+26-(Playoff cut-off)-17.Erik Jones-2618.Jimmie Johnson-2619.Tyler Reddick-3620.Christopher Bell-122NASCAR points standingsHarvick swept the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Michigan to pad his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings through 22 races. His lead over Brad Keselowski is 137 points, easily the biggest gap between two drivers this season.Below are the NASCAR Cup Series points standings through Sunday’s race at Michigan.(* 2020 race winner)RankDriverPoints1.Kevin Harvick*9162.Brad Keselowski*7793.Denny Hamlin*7764.Ryan Blaney*7415.Chase Elliott*7216.Joey Logano*7177.Martin Truex Jr.*7168.Aric Almirola6699.Kyle Busch65110.Kurt Busch64811.Alex Bowman*58512.Clint Bowyer57113.Matt DiBenedetto56814.William Byron53715.Erik Jones51116.Jimmie Johnson51117.Austin Dillon*50118.Tyler Reddick50119.Christopher Bell41520.Bubba Wallace40021.Cole Custer*39622.Michael McDowell37623.Chris Buescher37124.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.36925.John Hunter Nemechek34126.Ryan Newman33827.Ty Dillon32528.Matt Kenseth31629.Corey LaJoie28130.Ryan Preece24931.Daniel Suarez23832.Brennan Poole15433.Kyle Larson12134.Quin Houff12135.Reed Sorenson5536.Brendan Gaughan4637.David Ragan3338.James Davison19Below is NASCAR’s explanation for how it awards points:”Each finishing spot in the field earns a driver points, from a maximum of 40 points to the driver who finishes first, down to one point for the driver who finishes 40th. … “Drivers can earn race points through their performances in Stage 1 and Stage 2. Drivers who are running first through 10th at the conclusion of Stage 1 and/or Stage 2 will receive points, starting with 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, down to one point for 10th place. Points earned in those two stages are then added to what drivers earn after the final stage, which sets the full race results. . . .”Additionally, a driver can earn bonus playoff points for the following:Five playoff points to the race-winning driverOne playoff bonus point to the driver who wins Stage 1 and/or Stage 2 in every event”Those points are added on to a driver’s total once the postseason starts. The accumulated playoff points will carry over at the start of the Round of 16, Round of 12 and Round of 8.”last_img read more

Game Day Preview…Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars

first_imgCELEBRATION—Antonio Brown celebrates after one of his 7 catches. He was flagged for one of 13 penalties against the Steelers for 125 yards. (AP photo)After an embarrassing collapse last week against the previously winless Buccaneers, the Steelers travel to Jacksonville to take on another winless team. Will they fail to put away another weaker opponent or will they actually step up and take control of this game?You never know who’s going to show up so anything can certainly happen. So far, through the first quarter of the season, the black and gold have been anything but impressive. They are in the midst of the weakest part of their schedule so it’s time to start winning ball games.Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory:They need to eliminate the penalties. The 15 yard penalties have been out of control and it’s a sure fire way to lose a game against an inferior opponent, as the team proved last week.The offensive line better protect Ben. Pretty straight and simple. Without giving him protection, the team won’t be able to move the ball.The defense needs to stop crucial drives. Whenever they need to get the job done, the defense seems to fail. They need to step up on key 3rd downs and key drives, period.Blake Bortles is an x factor. The rookie QB has played pretty well since joining the starting lineup. Traditionally the Steelers D handles rookie QB’s. Can they continue to do so? They need to get to him early and often.Here are a Few Things to Watch:Cortez Allen-He’s the teams’ number one cornerback right now and he needs to start playing like one. Can he show us what the Steelers seem to see in him? So far that contract extension doesn’t look justified.Mike Tomlin-What will he do if and when the team starts getting penalized? Will he sit there with no e emotion or will he finally step up and do something about it?Antonio Brown-He’s run his streak of games with at least 5 catches and 50 yards to 20 straight, expect that to get to 21.The Defense in General-Can they get to the qb and apply pressure? Can they cause the necessary turnovers? Can they get off the field when necessary?last_img read more