NASCAR Playoffs: Monster Energy Series field post-Loudon

RELATED: Loudon race results | Playoff picture | Wreck shakes up playoffs picture

After the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race, here’s a brief look at the playoffs picture. There is one race remaining in the Round of 16 before the field is whittled to 12, with four drivers eliminated from the postseason following Dover (Oct. 1) next week.

Winner

Kyle Busch won on Sept. 24 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, clinching a spot in the second round of the playoffs. The win also gives him five playoff points to add to his total, which now sits at 36. Busch joins Chicago winner Martin Truex Jr. as drivers who are locked into the Round of 12.

Who’s hot

Kyle Larson: In the “Where did he come from?” category, Larson was pushing eventual race winner Kyle Busch on the final restart. That his car was running with the leader late is a testament to the No. 42 team, which improved the Chevrolet all day.

Matt Kenseth. One of three winless drivers to make the playoffs, Kenseth’s third-place showing lifted him to sixth place in the standings. It was a great day for the No. 20 team, which is peaking at the right time.

Who’s not

Kurt Busch. The driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford caught a bad, bad break Sunday. Teammate Kevin Harvick spun in front of him at the end of Stage 2, and Busch drilled the No. 4 hard enough to end his day and finish 37th. He almost certainly must win at Dover to advance.

Kasey Kahne. Running inside the top 15, Kahne brought out a caution flag on Lap 262 (of 300) when he couldn’t get down to pit road and slowed to a stop on the track. He was held on pit road for the infraction and ultimately had to go to the garage for a mechanical issue.

PHOTOS: All the best images from New Hampshire

BUBBLE WATCH

Rank Driver Points to cutoff
9. Chase Elliott +26
10. Kevin Harvick +25
11. Jamie McMurray +9
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0
————— CUT-OFF LINE —————
13. Austin Dillon 0
14. Ryan Newman -1
15. Kurt Busch -7
16. Kasey Kahne -21

Next race

The Monster Energy Series travels to Dover International Speedway for a Sunday afternoon race on Oct. 1 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Who it favors

Wins: Jimmie Johnson (11), Matt Kenseth (3), Ryan Newman (3)
Average Finish: Chase Elliott (3.7), Kyle Larson (8.3), Jimmie Johnson (9.3), Matt Kenseth (12.8)
Driver Rating: Jimmie Johnson (118.3), Matt Kenseth (108.5), Kyle Busch (105.2), Chase Elliott (100.2)

Who it hurts

Fewest Top-10s in past 10 starts at track: Ryan Blaney (1)Kurt Busch (1), Austin Dillon (1), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1)
Worst Average Finish: Ryan Blaney (26.0), Austin Dillon (22.6), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (21.1)
Worst Driver Rating: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (66.8), Austin Dillon (70.7), Ryan Blaney (75.5), Jamie McMurray (78.4)

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