In terms of clinching scenarios for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Homestead next week, there is only one common thread for the six playoff drivers who have not yet secured a place in the Championship 4: Win in Phoenix, and you’re in.

Beyond that, though, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have different hurdles to jump in their quests to join Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, winners of the last two playoff races, in the last round for the championship.

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All but one of those six drivers could reach the championship race without a win Sunday in Phoenix; only Elliott, 78 points under the cut line, needs a victory to advance. Two of the driver,s Busch and Logano, could clinch a place in the Championship 4 with a specific amount of points based on their current standings.

Below are the current NASCAR Cup Series championship points standings and the clinching scenarios for each of the six drivers looking to join Truex and Harvick as contenders for the title at Homestead.

NASCAR championship points standings

Pos. Driver Points +/-
1. Martin Truex Jr. (clinched) 4,133
2. Kevin Harvick (clinched) 4,113
3. Kyle Busch 4,113 +22
4. Joey Logano 4,111 +20
Cut-off line
5. Denny Hamlin 4,091 -20
6. Ryan Blaney 4,088 -23
7. Kyle Larson 4,088 -23
8. Chase Elliott 4,033 -78

NASCAR championship race clinching scenarios

Truex and Harvick already have clinched spots in the championship race next weekend at Homestead. Any of the six playoff drivers remaining would advance to the title race with a win in Phoenix, and the highest standing driver in points would earn the fourth and final spot.

If a non-playoff driver wins in Phoenix, then the top two drivers in points would advance to the championship race.

Should there be a tie in points, the advantage would go to the driver who scored the highest finish in this three-race round (at Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix).

Below are the clinching scenarios for the six Cup Series playoff drivers who have not yet earned a place in the championship race.

Kyle Busch

  • Would clinch with 53 points earned and a new winner in Phoenix.
  • If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Logano), would clinch having earned 34 points.

Busch is the only driver to win in the two races at ISM Raceway since the facility’s reconfiguration was completed last year. Among the eight playoff drivers, only Harvick (22) has more top-10 finishes in Phoenix than Busch’s 20, and he has the best cushion of points heading into Sunday’s race.

“We all know one guy is going to move through on points, and we have to do whatever we have to do in order to be that guy,” Busch said prior to the race at ISM. “If we can obviously go to Phoenix and have a strong run and be able to go out there and win that will put us through, as well. We’re two points up on the 22 (Logano), so it’s going to be a race between the 18 and 22. Imagine that.”

Joey Logano

  • Would clinch with 55 points earned and a new winner in Phoenix.
  • If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Busch), would clinch having earned 36 points.

Logano, who is two points behind third-place Busch and has a 20-point edge on fifth-place Hamlin, finished 37th in the Phoenix playoff race last year, but the defending champion advanced to Homestead by virtue of his previous win at Martinsville. No such cushion this year.

Logano finished 10th in Phoenix earlier this year, but he has only one victory (2016) and four top-five finishes in 21 Cup Series starts at the track. 

Denny Hamlin

  • Would clinch with a win.
  • Could clinch on points with help.

Among the four playoff drivers who are entering the Phoenix race on the outside of the Championship 4 looking in, Hamlin is the only one who has won at this track (2012).

Hamlin is averaging a 13.6 finish in the five Cup Series playoff races at ISM since 2014, and his 678 career laps led in Phoenix is more than the combined career totals of Logano (296), Larson (69), Blaney (108) and Elliott (156).

Ryan Blaney

  • Would clinch with a win.
  • Could clinch on points with help.

Blaney is averaging a 19.7 finish in the three playoff races he has run in Phoenix, the lowest average playoff finish among the four drivers needing a win to reach the Championship 4.

Earlier this season, though, Blaney won the pole, led a personal best 94 laps and finished third in Phoenix. Overall, he has three top-10 finishes in seven Phoenix starts. His worst outing (34th) came in last year’s playoff race.

Kyle Larson

  • Would clinch with a win.
  • Could clinch on points with help.

Larson finished third in the playoff races at Phoenix in 2016 and 2018, his best showing in the playoff races at the track. His average finish in the last five playoff races in Phoenix is 16th.

Overall, Larson has three top five and five top-10 finishes in 11 Phoenix starts with his current team. His best finish at the track is second in the 2017 spring race.

Chase Elliott

  • Needs a win to clinch.

Mathematically unable to advance on points, Elliott is the only playoff driver who needs to win in Phoenix in order to advance to the Championship 4. He has never won at Phoenix, but he did score a runner-up finish in the 2017 playoff race.

Elliott has four top-10 finishes in seven career Cup Series starts at Phoenix. He started on the outside pole for the spring race at the track this season but finished 14th.