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Ryan Blaney takes top NASCAR Cup Series playoff seed at Richmond

Photo by Jonathan Fjeld/TRE

 

RICHMOND, VA. – Ryan Blaney moved to the No. 1 seed for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs after the April 3 Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

Blaney finished seventh Sunday and led the most laps, including every lap of stage one he won and picked up one playoff point in.  

Blaney is now tied for the regular season points lead with Chase Elliott. Before Richmond, Elliott held the regular season points lead by 13 over Blaney.

In a tiebreaker scenario, as of now, Blaney would best Elliott for the regular season points lead and earn 15 extra points to start the playoffs – while Elliott would be second in the regular season points and earn 10 extra points to start the playoffs.

Blaney’s best finish is fourth (twice), while Elliott’s is a fourth-place finish at COTA. Blaney also has three stage wins, while Elliott has none after seven races.

The difference vaults Blaney into the No. 1 seed – with 2018 points  – and Elliott to the No. 5 seed – with 2010 points – in a tie with teammate Alex Bowman.

William Byron moved to the No. 2 seed after moving up two spots in the regular season standings, from 6th to 4th. 

Martin Truex Jr. gained one playoff point and moved from 7th to 3rd in the regular season points, which would put him in a position to earn four more playoff points and be in a tie for the No. 4 seed. Truex Jr. gained the playoff point for winning stage two at Richmond.

Truex Jr. would be tied with Chastain, who finished 19th and dropped from 5th to 6th in the regular season standings, which would earn him five extra points for the playoffs instead of six. 

 

Photo by Marteen Vigil/TRE
Playoffs SeedingDriverPlayoff Points TotalBase PointsPoints Position/PointsRace Wins (5 Pts/Win)Stage Wins (1 Pt/Win)
1Ryan Blaney2018200015 (1st)3
2William Byron201420007 (4th)5 (Atlanta win)2
T-3Ross Chastain2011 20005 (6th)5 (COTA win)1
T-3Martin Truex Jr.201120008 (3rd)3
T-5Alex Bowman201020004 (7th)5 (Las Vegas win)1
T-5Chase Elliott2010200010 (2nd)
7Chase Briscoe200720002 (9th)5 (Phoenix win)
T-8Joey Logano200620006 (5th)
T-8Denny Hamlin 2006 20000 (20th) 5 (Richmond win)1 (Stage win)
T-10Kyle Larson 200520000 (12th)5 (Auto Club win)
T-10Austin Cindric200520000 (15th)5 (Daytona 500 win)
12Kevin Harvick 200320003 (8th)
13Tyler Reddick200220000 (13th)2
T-14Kyle Busch 200120001 (10th)
T-14Daniel Suarez200120000 (14th)1
16Aric Almirola200020000 (11th)00

PLAYOFF POINTS EXPLAINED

Each win is worth five playoff points, each stage win is worth one playoff point.

The top 10 drivers in regular season points each earn playoff points for their points position at the end of the regular season: 1st – 15 points, 2nd – 10, 3rd – 8, 4th – 7, 5th – 6, 6th – 5, 7th – 4, 8th – 3, 9th – 2, 10th – 1.

WHO’S IN? WHO’S OUT?

Austin Cindric, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, William Byron, Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin are virtually locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as each driver has won a race. Each driver must stay above 30th in points to get into the playoffs with a win.

Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez are the non-winner drivers locked into the playoffs.

NASCAR Cup Series regular-season points standings after Race No. 7, the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway:

bold denotes driver currently locked into the playoffs
italics denotes driver currently outside of the playoffs

1. Chase Elliott 241 points (+83 ahead of Austin Dillon)
2. Ryan Blaney 241 (+83)
3. Martin Truex Jr. 222 (+64)
4. William Byron 218 (1 win)
5. Joey Logano 215 (+57)
6. Ross Chastain 214 (1 win)
7. Alex Bowman 212 (1 win)
8. Kevin Harvick 193 (+35)
9. Chase Briscoe 192 (1 win)
10. Kyle Busch 191 (+33)
11. Aric Almirola 184 (+26)
12. Kyle Larson 183 (1 win)
13. Tyler Reddick 183 (+25)
14. Daniel Suarez 171 (+13)
15. Austin Cindric 170 (1 win)

16. Austin Dillon 158 (-13 out of a playoff spot)
17. Erik Jones 157 (-14)
18. Kurt Busch 155 (-16)
19. Chris Buescher 151 (-20)

20. Denny Hamlin 148 (1 win)
21. Christopher Bell 147 (-24)
22. Bubba Wallace 133 (-38)
23. Justin Haley 129 (-42)
24. Ty Dillon 116 (-55)
25. Michael McDowell 109 (-62)
26. Cole Custer 105 (-66)
27. Todd Gilliland 105 (-66)
28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 101 (-70)
29. Harrison Burton 99 (-72)
30. Corey LaJoie 94 (-77)

–Must be Top-30 in points to win-and-get-in to the playoffs–
31. Brad Keselowski 72 (-99)*
32. Cody Ware 64 (-107)

*After the March 20 race at Atlanta, Brad Keselowski received a 100-point penalty in the regular season points and a 10-playoff point penalty. Without the penalty, Keselowski would be 14th in points – in a playoff position by one point over Suarez – and tied for the No. 15 seed with Aric Almirola.

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – APRIL 11: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 11, 2021 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the April 9 Blue Emu 400 at Martinsville Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr. won last year’s race and earned five playoff points, while Ryan Blaney won stage one and two – and earned two playoff points.

The race has been shortened from 500 laps to 400 laps this year.

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