One of the biggest changes this season for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the creation of playoff points. Drivers earn five playoff points for winning a race and a single playoff point for winning either of the first two stages of a race.
When the NASCAR playoffs begin in September at Chicagoland Speedway, the 16 drivers fighting for the championship will each start off with 2,000 points plus their playoff points for stage and race victories and, if they finish in the top 10 in the regular-season standings, additional regular-season playoff points.
The playoff points will carry over until the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, so banking the points in the regular season could pay big dividends when the championship battle begins.
So far, 14 drivers have earned playoff points in the first 10 races of the season. Here they all are:
John David MercerJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
12. Denny Hamlin, 1 playoff point
Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have a single playoff point each. Hamlin got his by winning Stage 2 at Talladega.
12. Matt Kenseth, 1
Kenseth dominated the first half of the Richmond race, winning Stage 1.
Peter CaseyPeter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
12. Kyle Busch, 1
Busch won the very first stage of the year, capturing Stage 1 at the Daytona 500.
The winner at Auto Club Speedway, Larson also won the first stage there and at Bristol.
2. Martin Truex Jr., 10
Truex is quietly putting together a great season. He won at Las Vegas, where he swept all three stages. Truex’s five stage wins are most in the series. In addition to Vegas, he took Stage 2 at Auto Club Speedway, Stage 1 at Martinsville and Stage 2 at Bristol.
Nigel Kinrade/LAT Photo USA
2. Jimmie Johnson, 10
The seven-time champion won back-to-back races at Texas and Bristol, giving him 10 playoff points.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
1. Brad Keselowski
Race victories at Atlanta and Martinsville gave the 2012 champ 10 points and he got two more by winning the second stage at Richmond and the first one at Talladega.