Busch vs. Logano For Regular Season Championship Battle Will Keep Both Points Racing From Here On Ou
The new NASCAR points system has worked perfectly. Stage points for end of stages for just the top 10 as well as a playoff point for winning the stage itself. Then, you throw in five playoff points for a race win and you get drivers that have guaranteed spots into the playoffs not throwing it in and just waiting until September to turn it on again.
But, with how close the battle is for the overall points lead in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series itself right now, we have the top two drivers in the points standings thinking points, not race wins at the moment.
BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN – JUNE 10: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
See, NASCAR also gives the regular season champion 15 additional playoff points after 26 races. The last few years, the regular season champion was almost a run away with it. At this point last season, Kyle Busch led Kevin Harvick by 70 points. In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. led Busch by 116 markers.
This year, Busch leads Joey Logano by just 13 points. That deficit can grow or diminish just in stage points. Any bad day could amplify this gap by a lot.
Neither driver can afford to give up stage points and position themselves for race wins anymore. Why give up so many valuable points? Think of it like this – if Busch wins the first stage on Sunday and comes home third at the Michigan International Speedway but Logano doesn’t come into the top 10 in either stage, then Busch would lead Logano by 31 points in the standings going into the final stage of the race.
What about the flipside? What if Logano finished first and third while Busch didn’t get a top 10 in either stage? Busch would go from 13 points up to 18 points down. See how they could sway in either direction by a bad stage?
A good finish wouldn’t outweigh the loss of stage points because lets be honest, both are likely going to be a threat to finish in the top 10 in the race. Making up points on finishing position isn’t enough. You have to score stage points.
Logano, has finished either first or second in three of the last five races in the opening stage. If you go back to the Michigan race in June, Logano has five top three finishes in the first stage in the last eight races. Stage 2 that number has dropped to a top four in half of the time.
What about Busch?
He’s won the first stage in two of the last three weeks. He has a top four finish in four straight races. But, the previous five races he didn’t finish in the top 10 at all in the first stage. In Stage 2, he’s failed to score stage points in each of the last two weeks. He did win the second stage four races ago when stage points became a necessity for him. From Pocono in early June to Daytona in early July, Busch scored just nine combined stage points.
Now, he’s really turning it on.
For two drivers going backwards in results, they one can win the regular season championship. Stage points will be why.
Think about if Busch does win it, he currently has 28 playoff points. He’d have at least 43 playoff points when the postseason starts. Logano, would have 17. But, if Logano wins, he’d have 32 playoff points at the very least with Busch scoring 28.
The regular season championship would mean a lot more for Logano for obvious reason due to playoff points but for Busch it would give him a big head start too.