NASCAR playoff watch: Erik Jones makes a move with a 3rd-place finish at New Hampshire

With just six races to go until NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs in the Cup Series begin, we figure it’s a good time to start keeping track of who is fighting to make the 16-driver field.

In with a win

Thanks to NASCAR’s win-and-in rules for the playoffs, these drivers are going to make the playoff field because of their victories

Kyle Busch (4 wins)

Martin Truex Jr. (4)

Brad Keselowski (3)

Joey Logano (2)

Denny Hamlin (2)

Kevin Harvick (1)

Kurt Busch (1)

Chase Elliott (1)

Alex Bowman (1)

Should make it without a win

Aric Almirola, 586 points

Ryan Blaney, 572

William Byron, 549

These three drivers shouldn’t have anything to worry about over the next six races barring a collapse. All three finished in the top 12 at New Hampshire.

In, for now

Kyle Larson, 519

Erik Jones, 516

Ryan Newman, 509

Clint Bowyer, 505

Larson crashed twice and finished 33rd. That opened the door for Jones to get within three points in 14th after finishing third. Jones was 16th entering Sunday’s race, so he gained two spots in the points standings.

Newman’s team’s engine-fixing could go down as one of the defining moments of the team’s season. Newman had an engine problem in the third stage but the team fixed it under caution and Newman was able to finish seventh and jump ahead of Bowyer, who finished 20th on Sunday.

Outside looking in

Jimmie Johnson, 488

Daniel Suarez, 488

Paul Menard, 445

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 428

Chris Buescher, 418

Johnson’s 30th-place finish dropped him from 15th to 17th in the standings. That’s huge. He’s now 17 points outside the playoffs and tied with Daniel Suarez, who spun when he collided with Daniel Hemric.

Suarez finished 19th on Sunday, behind both Menard (13th) and Buescher (15th). Stenhouse, meanwhile, hit the wall and finished 36th.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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