Updated NASCAR Cup Standings After Kyle Larson’s Win At Watkins Glen

There are three races left in the regular season

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The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are just a few weeks away, and there still are a few spots up for grabs.

Kyle Larson took the checkered flag Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International to earn his fifth win of the season. The Hendrick Motorsports driver remains atop the playoff qualifying standings, but also moved into a tie with Denny Hamlin for the most regular season points.

Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Reminder: Race winners automatically qualify for the playoffs, so long as they rank in the top 30 in points. The regular season points leader also atomically qualifies for the 16-driver field regardless of whether they have a victory, unless there are 16 different winners.

Here are the NASCAR playoff standings through 23 races, with wins/points in parenthesis:

1. Kyle Larson (5)
2. Martin Truex Jr. (3)
3. Kyle Busch (2)
4. Chase Elliott (2)
5. William Byron (1)
6. Alex Bowman (3)
7. Joey Logano (1)
8. Ryan Blaney (1)
9. Brad Keselowski (1)
10. Kurt Busch (1)
11. Christopher Bell (1)
12. Michael McDowell (1)
13. Aric Almirola (1)
14. Denny Hamlin (+302)
15. Kevin Harvick (+95)
16. Tyler Reddick (+15)
—–
17. Austin Dillon (-15)
18. Chris Buescher (-135)
19. Matt DiBenedetto (-147)
20. Ross Chastain (-148)

Now, here’s where things get interesting.

There have been 13 different winners this season, meaning there are three spots up for grabs with three races remaining. But Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have such sizable leads in points that their spots are safe provided previous winners claim checkered flags in two of the final three races. So, Reddick and Dillon essentially are vying for the final playoff spot.

However, should multiple drivers within the top 30 in points claim their first victories of the season, all hell could break lose.

Hamlin’s grip atop the regular season standings was unyielding until recently. If new race winners are victorious in each of the next three races, and Larson finishes atop the regular season standings, Hamlin would miss out on the postseason. So, too, would Harvick. Obviously, both drivers would clinch spots with victories.

Oh, and the regular season finale will take place at Daytona International Speedway, where anything can happen.

Next up, though, is Sunday’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

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