NASCAR playoffs 2018: Race schedule, standings, postseason format

Kyle-Busch-FTR-GettyImages
Kyle Busch (Getty Images)

In the second year of NASCAR’s new playoff format, many familiar driver names occupy the top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings. 

Kyle Busch, the 2015 series champion, holds a slight lead in the standings heading into the first event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Kevin Harvick and defending champion Martin Truex Jr. are not far behind. Busch and Harvick enter the final 10 races with 50 playoff points each. 

Here is how the 2018 NASCAR standings look entering the playoffs. 

2018 NASCAR playoff standings

1. Kyle Busch 2,050
2. Kevin Harvick 2,050
3. Martin Truex Jr. 2,035
4. Brad Keselowski 2,019
5. Clint Bowyer 2,015
6. Joey Logano 2,014
7. Kurt Busch 2,014
8. Chase Elliott 2,008
9. Ryan Blaney 2,007
10. Erik Jones 2,005
11. Austin Dillon 2,005
12. Kyle Larson 2,005
13. Denny Hamlin 2,003
14. Aric Almirola 2,001
15. Jimmie Johnson 2,000
16. Alex Bowman 2,000

NASCAR playoff rules, format

The simplest way to advance in the NASCAR playoff bracket is to win a race. If you win, you will move on to the next round. The 10 playoff events will feature stage racing, with playoff bonus points up for grabs that drivers can take to the next round.

To start the playoffs, all point totals are reset to 2,000 for the 16 playoff drivers, and drivers who earned bonus points during the regular season have those added to their total. Points will be reset again before the Round of 12 and Round of 8. The Championship 4 drivers will have their points totals reset to 5,000 each for the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After three playoff races (Sept. 30 at Charlotte), four drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs. After another three races (Oct. 21 at Kansas), another four will be eliminated based on points, then again at Phoenix on Nov. 11 until four drivers remain. 

2018 NASCAR playoff schedule

Here’s a look at each race in the 2018 NASCAR playoff schedule: 

Sept. 16 — Round of 16 begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Sept. 22 — Richmond (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Sept. 30 — Charlotte (cutoff race, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)
Oct. 7 — Round of 12 begins at Dover (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Oct. 14 — Talladega (2 p.m. ET, NBC)
Oct. 21 — Kansas (cutoff race, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)
Oct. 28 — Round of 8 begins at Martinsville (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Nov. 4 — Texas (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Nov. 11 — Phoenix (cutoff race, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
Nov. 18 — Championship 4 at Homestead (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)