Denny Hamlin

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Dover

Photo by: Chris Trotman

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicked off the second round of the playoffs at Dover International Speedway, where one driver secured his place into the next round by earning his first win of 2019.

Four organizations are featured in this week’s Top 5, including two drivers who are tied in the standings

No. 1 Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson snapped a 75 race winless streak on Sunday, leading 154 of 400 laps.

Larson earned stage points in Stage 1 (third) and Stage 2 (second).

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is fifth in the playoff standings, 32 points behind leader Martin Truex Jr.

No. 2 Matt DiBenedetto – Matt DiBenedetto earned his seventh top-10 finish during the Drydene 400, finish seventh.

The Leavine Family Racing driver failed to earn stage points, but ran as high as third with an average position of 12th.

DiBenedetto is 21st in the point standings, 14 points behind Chris Buescher in 20th.

No. 3 Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson earned his 11th top 10 of the season, finish in eighth place.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver earned stage points in Stage 1 (seventh) and Stage 2 (fifth).

Johnson is 17th in the points standings, 10 points ahead of Daniel Suarez.

No. 4 Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch earned his 23rd top-10 finish of the season on Sunday, finishing sixth.

Busch earned stage points during Stage 1 with an eighth place finish, and ran as high as 4th throughout 400 miles.

Busch is tied with teammate Denny Hamlin for second in the playoff standings, 15 points behind Truex.

No. 5 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin earned his 15th top-five finish of 2019, finishing fifth.

Hamlin won the first stage of the race and added to his playoff points total with a third place finish in Stage 2.

Hamlin is tied with Busch in the playoff standings, 15 points behind Truex.

Advertisements

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Las Vegas

lvms_mencs_harvick_091519
Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs kicked off on Sunday, September 15th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where one championship contender earned his fifth win of 2019.

Three organizations are featured in this week’s Top 5, with all five drivers being Playoff contenders.

No. 1 Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick earned his 10th top-five finish of the season at Las Vegas, finishing second.

Harvick earned stage points in Stage 1 (second) and Stage 2 (fourth). He also led 47 laps on Sunday.

Harvick is second in the points standings, three points behind leader Martin Truex Jr.

No. 2 William Byron – William Byron earned his 10th top 10 on Sunday, finishing in the seventh position.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver earned stage points in Stage 1 (seventh) and Stage 2 (sixth).

Byron is ninth in the points standings, 42 points behind Truex and 18 points behind Keselowski in fifth.

No. 3 Chase Elliott – Chase Elliott earned his ninth top-five finish of 2019, finishing fourth during the South Point 400.

Elliott failed to earn stage points during Stage 1, but earned them in Stage 2 with a fifth place finish.

Elliott is sixth in the points standings, 25 points behind Truex and one point behind Keselowski.

No. 4 Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman earned his eighth top-10 finish of the season on Sunday, finishing sixth.

Bowman failed to earn stage points during Stage 1, but earned them in Stage 2 with a 10th place finish.

Bowman is 11th in the points standings, 45 points behind Truex and two points behind Ryan Blaney in 10th.

No. 5 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin struggled with the handling of his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry on Sunday, resulting in a 15th place finish.

Hamlin earned stage points in Stage 2 (seventh), in addition he gained 17 positions from his finish one year ago at the 1.5-mile track.

Hamlin is seventh in the points standings, 26 points behind Truex and two points away from Keselowski.

Notable: Joey Logano finished ninth at Las Vegas after leading a race-high 105 laps. He is third in the points standings, seven points behind Truex.

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Indianapolis

mencs_ims_playoff_photo_090819
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.

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Watkins Glen

wgi_mencs_burnout_080419
Photo by: Sean Gardner

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited a road course for the second time this season on Sunday at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.

There are five different organizations featured in this week’s Top 5, with two drivers being former series champions.

No. 1 Matt DiBenedetto – Matt DiBenedetto earned his fourth top-10 finish of the season at Watkins Glen.

The Leavine Family Racing driver finished sixth. He held a 12th place average throughout 220.5 miles, running as high as sixth.

DiBenedetto is 23rd in the point standings, 471 points behind leader Kyle Busch and 86 points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr, who is 20th.

No. 2 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin earned 11th top five on Sunday, finishing in the third position.

Hamlin earned stage points in Stage 1 (second) and Stage 2 (fifth). He ran as high as second with an average position of fifth.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is fourth in the point standings, 80 points behind teammate Busch.

No. 3 Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson finished 19th on Sunday, but gained 11 positions from his finish at the 2.45-mile road course one year ago.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver earned stage points in Stage 1 (sixth) and Stage 2 (10th).

Johnson is tied with Ryan Newman for 16th in the point standings, 307 behind Busch and 12 points from 15th.

No. 4 Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola finished 12th on Sunday, gaining 10 positions from one year ago when he finished 22nd.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver earned stage points in Stage 1 (10th).

Almirola is ninth in the point standings, 211 points behind Busch and 113 points behind Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.

No. 5 Brad Keselowski – Brad Keselowski earned his 12th top-10 finish of the year on Sunday, finishing in the ninth position.

Keselowski failed to earn stage points during Stage 1 of the Go Bowling at the Glen, but earned them in Stage 2 with sixth.

The Team Penske driver is sixth in the standings, 123 points behind Busch and 25 points behind Truex.

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Kentucky

mencs_ks_kubuchecker_071319
Photo by: Matt Sullivan

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited Kentucky Speedway under the lights for the Quaker State 400.

Four different organizations are featured in this week’s Top 5, with one driver earning his first win with a new team.

No. 1 Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson earned his third top-five finish of the season on Saturday, finishing fourth.

It is the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s second top-five finish in three races.

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

He is 13th in the standings, 235 points behind leader Logano and 31 points away from Almirola in 10th.

No. 2 Kurt Busch – Kurt Busch earned his 31st career MENCS victory, leading 41 laps at the 1.5-mile track.

Busch won Stage 1 and finished seventh in Stage 2.

The victory is the veteran’s first of the season and first with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Busch is tied with former champion Martin Truex Jr. for sixth in the standings, 128 points behind Logano.

No. 3 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin earned his eighth top five of 2019, finishing fifth.

Hamlin led five laps on Saturday in addition to finishing fourth in Stage 1.

He is fifth in the standings, 119 points behind Logano.

No. 4 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 12th at Kentucky, after leading 21 laps.

Stenhouse earned stage points in Stage 1 with seventh and held an average position of 12th throughout the event.

Stenhouse is 19th in the standings, 319 points behind Logano and 46 points away from the last cutoff position held by Erik Jones, in 16th.

No. 5 Chris Buescher – Chris Buescher earned his fourth top-10 finish of the season on Saturday, scoring 10th.

Buescher failed to earn stage points, but ran as high as third. Buescher also tied his 2017 season with most top-10s in a season.

He is 21st in the standings, 350 points behind Logano and 23 points behind Paul Menard in 20th.

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Pocono

Photo by: Chris Trotman

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 400, where 2015 Champion Kyle Busch earned his 55th series victory.

All five drivers in this week’s Top 5 earned either a top-five finish or top 10, including two of Busch’s teammates.

No. 1 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin earned his ninth top-10 finish of the season on Sunday, June 2nd at Pocono Raceway, finishing sixth.

Hamlin failed to earn stage points, but ran as high as first with an average position of eighth.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver gained 29 positions from one year ago, when he finished 35th.

Hamlin is sixth in the standings, 103 points behind his teammate Kyle Busch and 35 points behind fifth place, Kevin Harvick.

No. 2 Brad Keselowski – Brad Keselowski earned his sixth top-five finish of 2019, finishing in the runner-up position.

Keselowski earned stage points in Stage 1 (third) and Stage 2 (fourth), in addition to leading four laps of the Pocono 400.

The Team Penske driver is fourth in the standings, 59 points behind leader Busch and two points behind Chase Elliott in third.

No. 3 Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez earned his fifth top 10 of the season, finishing in the eighth position.

Suarez led nine laps on Sunday. He earned stage points in Stage 1 (seventh) and Stage 2 (10th).

Suarez is 13th in the standings, an even 200 points behind Busch and 34 behind 10th, which is held by teammate Clint Bowyer.

No. 4 Erik Jones – Erik Jones earned his fourth top five of 2019, finishing in the third position.

Jones failed to earn stage points on Sunday, but held an average position of eighth throughout 400 miles at the 2.5-mile track.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is 15th in the standings, 225 points behind Busch and 59 points behind Bowyer.

No. 5 William Byron – William Byron earned his fourth top 10 on Sunday, finishing ninth.

Byron earned stage points in Stage 1 (second) and Stage 2 (third). He led twice for a total of 25 laps.

Byron sits 14th in the standings, 207 points behind Busch and 41 points away from Bowyer.

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Pocono

monsterenergynascarcupseriesganderoutdoors8la84nbwo3fl
Photo by: Jared C. Tilton 

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned to Pocono Raceway, where the “Big 3” continued their dominance, with Kyle Busch taking the checkers and earning his sixth victory of the season.

Ironically, none of the Big 3 make this week’s Top 5, but two of Busch’s teammates do.

Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers along with a Richard Childress Racing driver are featured below.

No. 1 Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez earned his second top five of 2018, finishing in the runner-up position after leading 29 laps in the Gander Outdoors 400.

Suarez earned stage points in Stage 1 with fifth and gained 22 positions from his finish at the 2.5-mile track in early June.

Suarez is 20th in the point standings, 491 points behind leader Kyle Busch and 40 points from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard, who are tied in the cutoff position in 16th place.

No. 2 William Byron – William Byron led 10 laps on Sunday before finishing in the sixth position, earning him his first top 10 since finishing 10th at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

Byron earned stage points in Stage 2 with a 10th place finish. The Hendrick Motorsports driver held an average position of 14th throughout 400 miles.

Byron is 21st in the point standings, 501 points behind Busch and 50 points from Stenhouse and Menard.

No. 3 Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman earned his second top-five finish of the season, finishing third.

Bowman earned stage points in Stage 1 (ninth) and Stage 2 (fourth). He had an average position of ninth and was 13th midway through the event.

Bowman sits 15th in the point standings, 395 points behind Busch and 116 points behind Ryan Blaney in 10th.

No. 4 Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin earned his 11th top-10 finish of the year, finishing in 10th place.

Hamlin earned stage points with a third-place finish in Stage 1. He also led five laps on Sunday.

Hamlin is ninth in the point standings, 273 points behind his teammate and 59 points away from fifth.

No. 5 Ryan Newman – Ryan Newman finished eighth on Sunday, earning him his sixth top 10 of the season.

Newman failed to earn stage points, but ran as high as seventh with an average position of 15th.

Newman is 18th in the point standings, 483 points behind Busch and 32 points from the cutoff position.

Notables: Bubba Wallace finished in 33rd place after crashing out on Lap 154. Wallace went sliding through the grass at the end of the frontstretch before slamming his No. 43 Chevrolet into the outside wall.

Wallace did not lower his window net down immediately, but finally climbed from his car and sat on the asphalt before climbing into an ambulance.

7-time MENCS champion Jimmie Johnson made his 600th career start on Sunday, finishing 17th.