NASCAR Playoffs - Round of 12 Preview: Predictions and Odds
The race for the 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championship is officially on.
Las Vegas offered a first look at what the big picture will look like for the next nine races.
But, for now, drivers must turn their attention to making it into the Round of 12.
Four of them will face an early cutoff next week at Dover.
A single bad result could easily undo the year-long work.
With little time to bounce back from a bad run at Vegas, drivers sitting around the bubble desperately need a good result this weekend.
This list includes some potential championship contenders.
How to Watch
What: Federated Auto Parts 400
Where: Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, VA
When: Saturday, September 21st at 7:30 PM EST
How: NBC Sports (TV) | Motor Racing Network (Web radio) | NBC Sports App
What Does the Round of 16 Cutoff Look Like After Las Vegas?
After the first round of the postseason, that picture looks significantly different.
For starters, Byron and Almirola had decent runs in the playoffs opener.
Byron survived an early spin to finish a very good seventh, moving himself up to ninth.
More importantly, the Hendrick Motorsports driver now sits 17 points above the cutoff.
While that is not a safe margin by any means, it does put him in a very good position to advance.
Almirola finished a decent 13th, which, combined with other drivers running into problems, was enough to move him up to 12th in points.
The Stewart-Haas driver sits just above the cutoff, six points ahead of Ryan Newman.
He will definitely need to show some better pace over the next races.
Almirola only has three top 10 finishes in the last 17 starts this season.
That being said, he did finish fifth in points last year, as the best of the rest.
Almirola will need to find his postseason form back in order to advance.
Ryan Newman, the first driver outside the bubble, scored a surprising top 10 at Vegas.
While his Roush Fenway car does not have the same speed as his closest competitors, the veteran’s consistency will likely help him.
Newman made up for the team’s lack of pace by relying on his opponent’s mistakes.
He could make it to the Round of 12 using that same strategy.
For now, however, Rocket Man is still on the outside looking in.
Clint Bowyer, 15th in points, had a solid start to the weekend in Vegas by scoring his first pole in 12 years.
It all went wrong in the race, as a flat tire dropped him down to 25th.
The result was a hard blow for Bowyer, and will likely cost him a spot in the Round of 12.
But the Stewart-Haas driver was never really considered a factor in the title fight.
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Vegas did some serious damage to two potential long-shots for the championship.
One of them was Kurt Busch.
After a surprising run during the regular season, the Chip Ganassi driver looked like a certain lock for the Round of 8 at the very least.
But disaster struck early for the 2004 champion.
Busch also suffered a flat tire, but the resulting crash forced him to retire on the spot.
He finished last among the 40 cars, a result that dropped him from eighth to 14th in points.
Busch now sits 14 points behind the cutoff.
The Cup Series veteran looked like a good long-shot pick for the championship.
Following his poor result at Las Vegas, however, he could even get cut at the end of the Round of 16.
Joe Gibbs’ Erik Jones also looked like a decent long-shot pick for the championship.
But a gearbox issue at Vegas might have ended his season earlier than expected.
Jones finished down in 36th, which dropped him to 16th in points, last among the playoff contenders.
He entered the postseason carrying the momentum from five top 5 finishes in the last eight races.
Jones had four consecutive top 5 finishes between Kentucky and Watkins Glen.
He also scored a win at Darlington.
What looked like a potential breakout season for the third year driver could end with an early exit.
Now sitting 26 points off 12th place, Jones will need to rely on similar problems for his competitors.
The Joe Gibbs driver doesn’t seem to be a good pick for the championship anymore.
2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Championship Odds
The latest odds for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship are provided by 888Sport NJ.
|Truex Jr, Martin||+450|