Photo by: Chris Graythen
The first race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs was a wild and exciting start to the post-season. Several playoff contenders were taken out during the South Point 400, ranging from be a victim of someone else’s misfortune to blown tires.
Four of the five drivers in this week’s Top 5 earned best finishes, including Saturday’s Xfinity Series winner in the DC Solar 300.
No. 1 Regan Smith – Regan Smith finished in the 12th position on Sunday in just his second race of the season, subbing for the sidelined Kasey Kahne.
Smith led 10 laps during the South Point 400. The 34-year-old has at least three more races in the No. 95 for Leavine Family Racing, including the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
It’ll be interesting to see what Smith does with his time in the car from here. His best finish was 17th at Dover in 2012.
No. 2 Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez earned his seventh top-10 finish of the season, finishing eighth.
Suarez failed to earn stage points on Sunday, but ran as high as fourth. He gained 18 positions from his finish at the 1.5-mile track earlier this year.
The finish is the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s best since finishing fourth at Watkins Glen in one month ago.
No. 3 Ross Chastain – Ross Chastain may not want to leave Vegas after a thrilling weekend in Sin City.
Chastain freshly came off his first career win in Saturday’s Xfinity event to race on Sunday, where he finished 20th.
Chastain ran as high as 13th on Sunday throughout 400 miles. The finish is his best since finishing 18th at Texas in April.
No. 4 Corey LaJoie– Corey LaJoie’s 16th place finish is the driver’s second-best finish of his career, and best since finishing 11th at Daytona last summer.
LaJoie held a 29th place average position throughout the race, but ran as high as fifth on Sunday.
How will LaJoie fair at Richmond and will the momentum carry over into Richmond?
No. 5 Trevor Bayne – Trevor Bayne earned a top-15 finish at Las Vegas on Sunday, finishing in the 13th position.
Bayne has finished in the top 15 two weeks in a row, and ran as high as third on Sunday.
Can Bayne earn his first top-10 finish of the season next weekend at Richmond?
Notable: Brad Keselowski’s win on Sunday in Las Vegas was the driver’s third consecutive win of the season. It also marked the 500th victory for team owner Roger Penske.