In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Indianapolis

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Photo by: Brian Lawdermilk

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the last race of the regular season, setting the championship Playoff field of 16 drivers.

Four of this week’s Top 5 will be competing in the Playoffs to become this year’s champion.

No. 1 Bubba Wallace – Bubba Wallace earned his first top-five finish of the season during Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, where he finished third.

Wallace battled back from an early accident on pit road. He ran as high as third and was no worse than 11th in the final 50 laps.

Wallace is 27th in the standings, 203 points behind Chris Buescher in 20th.

No. 2 William Byron – William Byron earned his third top-five finish of the season on Sunday, finishing fourth.

Byron failed to earn stage points in Stage 1, but earned them in Stage 2 with a ninth place finish.

Byron earned his first career playoff berth on Sunday, alongside teammates Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott.

He is tied with Aric Almirola in the playoff standings for 13th, 44 points behind leader Kyle Busch.

No. 3 Ryan Newman – Ryan Newman battled hard in the final laps to secure his position in this year’s Playoffs. The Roush Fenway driver finished eighth, securing the last seed in the championship field.
Newman avoided a crash on Lap 105. He earned stage points during Stage 1 (fifth), but failed to earn them in Stage 2.

He is 16th in the playoff standings, 45 points behind Busch.

No. 4 Chase Elliott – Chase Elliott earned his 11th top 10 of the season, finishing ninth.

Elliott failed to earn stage points at the 2.5-mile track, but ran as high as eighth.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is seventh in the playoff standings, 27 points behind Busch.

No. 5 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin earned his 17th top-10 finish of 2019 at the Brickyard, finishing sixth.

Hamlin failed to earn stage points, but ran as high as fourth with an average position of 13th.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is second in the playoff standings, 15 points behind teammate Busch.

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