1 Kyle Busch – 3,046 points (+41)
A runner-up finish at Richmond in the middle race of the Round of 16 is really all the regular season champion has to show for his efforts in the first three races. He was 37th at the ROVAL and left the race early when the team decided they had nothing else to gain by staying on the track. His lead has shrunk from 15 points to five. He’s combined for five wins at the Round of 12 tracks (Dover – 3 wins, Kansas – 1, Talladega – 1).
Martin Truex, Jr. celebrates his win at Richmond International Raceway, one of two Round of 16 win for him in 2019. (Getty Images)
2 Martin Truex, Jr. – 3,041 points (+36)
The Round of 16 couldn’t have gone much better for the 2017 champion in his first year at Joe Gibbs Racing. Wins at Las Vegas and Richmond were followed with a seventh-place showing at the ROVAL, and Truex is now second in the points after starting the playoffs third. He also has five combined wins at the Round of 12 tracks including the spring race at Dover this year (Dover – 3, Talladega – 0, Kansas – 2).
3 Denny Hamlin – 3,030 points (+25)
Hamlin’s playoff run is off to a slow start in his best season since 2012. He finished 15th at Las Vegas and 19th at the ROVAL but hung his hat on a third-place showing in Richmond. He’ll need to be a little better in the Round of 12 where he has just two combined wins (Dover – 0, Talladega – 1, Kansas – 1).
4 Joey Logano – 3,029 points (+24)
Consistency is key in the playoffs, and it doesn’t get much more consistent than results of 9, 11, and 10 in the first round. The top-11 results were more than enough for Logano in the Round of 16, but he’ll need to be better to defend his championship. Logano hasn’t had much success at Dover, but he’s been strong at the rest of the Round of 12 tracks (Dover – 0, Talladega – 3, Kansas – 2).
5 Kevin Harvick – 3,028 points (+23)
A pair of top three finishes to start the playoff run following a win in the regular season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has Harvick looking locked and loaded. He’s finished in the top five at five of the last seven races, and he’s been great at the Round of 12 tracks (Dover – 2, Talladega – 1, Kansas – 3).
Chase Elliott celebrates his win at the Charlotte ROVAL as he moves on to the Round of 12. (Getty Images)
6 Chase Elliott – 3,024 points (+19)
Elliott locked himself into the Round of 12, almost immediately locked up his tires, going nose-first into the Turn 1 tire barrier at the ROVAL, then somehow rebounded to pass Kevin Harvick late and win the race. Could this be the start of the run people have been waiting for from the sport’s most popular driver? You can’t argue he’s got momentum on his side consider he won two of the three Round of 12 races a year ago and took the spring race at Talladega this year. (Dover – 1, Talladega – 1, Kansas – 1).
7 Brad Keselowski – 3,024 points (+19)
Bad Brad enters the chat to steal the title of Mr. Consistent from his teammate, Logano. Keselowski finished third, fourth, and fifth in the Round of 16 races, doing nothing to hurt his chances at a second championship. It’s hard to imagine he’s lacking in confidence considering he won the spring race at Kansas and is considered one of the favorites every time the No. 2 Ford hits the track at Talladega (Dover – 1, Talladega – 5, Kansas – 2).
8 Kyle Larson – 3,006 points (+1)
He didn’t even have to Mad Max a dying car across the finish line to advance to the Round of 12 this year. Larson won the opening stage in Charlotte, finishing 13th. Adding that to his eighth and sixth-place showings to open the playoffs, and he lives to fight another round. If he wants to guarantee his spot in the Round of 8 for the first time, he’ll need to do what he’s never done, win at one of those racetracks (Dover – 0, Talladega – 0, Kansas – 0).
9 Alex Bowman – 3,005 points (-1)
Bowman’s run to second place at the ROVAL seemed unlikely even as it was happening, but he’s through to the Round of 12 for the second straight season. Bowman overcame sickness, dehydration, having to start at the tail end of the field Sunday, and a 23rd place showing the week before at Richmond, but he made it. He’s never won at the three Round of 12 tracks, but he finished second at all three of them this spring (Dover – 0, Talladega – 0, Kansas – 0).
10 Ryan Blaney – 3,004 points (-2)
He overcame a broken strut on his car at the ROVAL to survive and advance, doing just enough to get the job done. Blaney started strong with a fifth-place showing at Las Vegas and his eighth-place finish in Charlotte was a gutsy result considering the issues his team had. He’s never won at the Round of 12 tracks, but Kansas is definitely his strongest circuit. He boasts three top fives in nine starts there. He has one top five combined at Dover and Talladega (Dover – 0, Talladega – 0, Kansas – 0).
11 William Byron – 3,001 points (-5)
Byron started his first playoff run outside the cutline in 13th, but a sixth at the ROVAL with the pole and a seventh at Las Vegas got him through to the Round of 12. He started in the top three at both Dover and Kansas this spring as part of an impressive run of five pole awards and 10 starts on the front row this year. He’ll need the finishes to advance to the Round of 8, though, and he has a single top 10 in nine total starts at the next three tracks (Dover – 0, Talladega – 0, Kansas – 0).
12 Clint Bowyer – 3,000 points (-6)
Bowyer’s fourth-place run at the ROVAL moved him into the top 12 of the standings for the first time in three months, advancing him in the playoffs for the second year in a row. Bowyer should be excited to go home to Kansas with a chance to advance, but his home track has actually been a challenge with just three top fives in 22 starts. He has won Talladega twice, though those were back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 (Dover – 0, Talladega – 2, Kansas – 0).
Courtesy; Texas Motor Speedway