NASCAR Playoff watch: Jimmie Johnson spins, still gains in the points standings

Jimmie Johnson got wrecked and still made a move in the points standings.

Johnson got turned into the carousel corner tire barriers on lap 62 by Ryan Blaney and still wound up with a top-20 finish. That, along with points from finishing in the top 10 in the first two stages, allowed Johnson to jump into a tie with Ryan Newman for 16th in the standings.

In with a win

Kyle Busch (4 wins)

Martin Truex Jr. (4)

Brad Keselowski (3)

Denny Hamlin (3)

Joey Logano (2)

Chase Elliott (2)

Kevin Harvick (1)

Kurt Busch (1)

Alex Bowman (1)

Nothing changes here as Elliott gets five more bonus points with his domination at Watkins Glen. Elliott may not be a favorite for the title but he’s someone who should be a contender in the third round of the playoffs at the very least.

Should make it without a win

Aric Almirola, 640 points

Ryan Blaney, 633

William Byron, 604

Erik Jones, 598

Kyle Larson, 590

We’ve got two new entries into this category. Jones continued his surge of excellence on Sunday with a fourth-place finish while Larson was eighth after some good pit strategy by crew chief Chad Johnston.

This is a group that shouldn’t seem too worried about making the playoffs, barring some serious misfortune over the next four races. Byron is still comfortably in the playoff picture after a bad day and a conflict with Kyle Busch, and Blaney was fifth on Sunday.

In, for now

Clint Bowyer, 556

Jimmie Johnson, 544

Did Johnson get lucky that Kyle Busch and Bubba Wallace got into a confrontation? That video above of Johnson going into the tire barrier off Blaney’s bumper came before Busch and Wallace exchanged contact on the frontstretch on the same lap and a caution came out.

The official reasoning for the caution on Racing Reference, a site owned by NASCAR, is for Busch and Wallace. But NBC’s telecast of the race shows that the caution was out before Busch went spinning off Wallace’s bumper into turn one. Look at the illuminated yellow NBC logo here.

The caution sure seemed to be displayed before Bubba Wallace spun Kyle Busch. (via NBC)

If the caution wasn’t for Johnson, his playoff fortunes could be attributed to Busch and Wallace being mad at each other. He ended up finishing 19th and moved up 12 points in the standings.

Outside looking in

Ryan Newman, 544

Daniel Suarez, 521

Paul Menard, 483

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 466

Newman had a flat tire during the race and was simply off all weekend. He finished 25th and is now tied with Johnson in the standings. But Johnson has the tiebreaker because he has better finishes than Newman.

Suarez is 23 points behind Newman after he finished 17th. He too had a tire rub after contact in turn one during the race.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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