If you look at the playoffs in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as well as the NASCAR XFINITY Series right now, you’d think that Denny Hamlin would be a favorite in Cup while Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe would be among the favorites in XFINITY to win this year’s championships.
Instead, all three are on the wrong side of the bubble with one race remaining to set the Championship 4 for both series.
Hamlin, is -20 in the Cup standings, but has four top five finishes in his last five starts on the year and five in the last seven. He trails Joey Logano, a driver who hasn’t won since June 10 and in his last 19 starts on the season, has three top fives. In that same time frame, Hamlin has three wins and 12 top fives.
So how is he on the wrong end of the standings?
Hamlin, finished 28th last weekend in Texas. He lost 46 points that day. The lack of stage points and playoff points compared to Logano has cost him.
Virtually, one bad finish put him behind the eight ball.
Same can be said for both NXS drivers.
Cindric, is 31 points behind Justin Allgaier for the cutoff spot but has four top five finishes, all being in the top three, in five playoff starts. How is he 31 points back you may ask? He finished 25th at Kansas a couple of weeks ago.
Like Hamlin, one bad finish.
Briscoe, is in the same boat. He’s 18 points arrears but has four top 10’s in five tries this postseason, three of being being in the top five in fact. Go back to Kentucky in Mid-July, Briscoe has finished outside the top 10 just twice – once was an 11th place run in the regular season finale in Vegas and the other a 22nd place effort last Saturday night in Texas.
One bad finish.
Christopher Bell has two top 10 finishes the entire playoffs. Both are wins, one in each round which makes him Championship 4 bound. Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick have two top fives each but they likely are final round bound too.
Playoff points have propelled those three while Cindric and Briscoe lack them. Cindric has 17 with Briscoe 13. Bell, Custer and Reddick have 69, 50 and 44 respectively. They have mulligans built in while Cindric and Briscoe have no margin for error.