For NASCAR drivers, it comes down to this: 10 races to determine the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion.
NASCAR’s playoffs begin Sept. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Forget all the talk you’ve heard about the “Big Three,” of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, who combined to win 17 of the season’s first 26 races. While they certainly go in as the favorites, any of the 16 drivers in the playoff field can potentially win. Mechanical failures happen. Crashes happen (Talladega’s “Big One” can ruin anyone’s championship dreams).
Here’s a look at the NASCAR playoffs drivers, the format, schedule and odds.
NASCAR Playoff Standings
|Driver||Points||Pts Behind||Playoff Pts|
|1. Kyle Busch||2050||Leader||50|
|2. Kevin Harvick||2050||—||50|
|3. Martin Truex Jr.||2035||15||35|
|4. Brad Keselowski||2019||31||19|
|5. Clint Bowyer||2015||35||15|
|6. Joey Logano||2014||36||14|
|7. Kurt Busch||2014||36||14|
|8. Chase Elliott||2008||42||8|
|9. Ryan Blaney||2007||43||7|
|10. Erik Jones||2005||45||5|
|11. Austin Dillon||2005||45||5|
|12. Kyle Larson||2005||45||5|
|13. Denny Hamlin||2003||47||3|
|14. Aric Almirola||2001||49||1|
|15. Jimmie Johnson||2000||50||0|
|16. Alex Bowman||2000||50||0|
NASCAR Playoff Races
|1. Las Vegas Motor Speedway||Sept. 16||3 p.m.|
|2. Richmond Raceway||Sept. 22||7:30 p.m.|
|3. Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval||Sept. 30||2 p.m.|
|4. Dover International Speedway||Oct. 7||2 p.m.|
|5. Talladega Superspeedway||Oct.14||2 p.m.|
|6. Kansas Speedway||Oct. 21||2 p.m.|
|7. Martinsville Speedway||Oct. 28||2:30 p.m.|
|8. Texas Motor Speedway||Nov. 4||3 p.m.|
|9. ISM Raceway (Phoenix)||Nov. 11||2:30 p.m.|
|10. Homestead-Miami Speedway||Nov. 18||2:30 p.m.|
NASCAR Playoff Format
Four drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs after every three races, with the cutoff races at Charlotte, Kansas and Phoenix. The points are reset after each three-race round. The four remaining “Championship 4” drivers will then race head to head for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship at Homestead, with the top finisher of that group taking the title. Playoff points — which were accumulated during the year for winning races, race stages and finishing in the regular-season top 10 — are added to a driver’s points total at the start of every round of the playoffs.
NASCAR Playoff Odds
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick begin the playoffs as the co-favorites among sportsbooks at 9-4 odds, with Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman (500-1) the real longshots, but again, crazy things can happen in the postseason.
|Martin Truex Jr.||9-2|