Kyle Busch’s won his second race of the season Saturday night at Bristol, and he jumped Kyle Larson in the points for second place behind Martin Truex Jr.
But that wasn’t the biggest change in the standings. Entering Saturday night’s race, the last three winless drivers in the playoff field were Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.
Kenseth won Stage 2 of the race and finished fourth overall, which earned him enough points to pass McMurray for a little breathing room with only two races remaining in the regular season.
McMurray finished 12th at Bristol, and Elliott finished 18th. Clint Bowyer, who would currently be the first driver to miss the cut for the postseason, finished 19th and lost ground on his competition.
With only two races to go, McMurray now has a 58-point lead on Bowyer. A lot can happen in two races, and the three winless drivers currently in the field are only separated by 11 points.
Any winless driver in the top 30 of the points can clinch a berth in the playoffs with a victory in the last two races of the regular season, so Elliott, McMurray and Kenseth can’t simply coast down the stretch.
Erik Jones, who finished second at Bristol, won’t be able to make up enough ground in the next two races to make the playoffs, but he could be a threat to win a race in the next two outings. The rookie has top three finishes in his last two races.
Martin Truex Jr. didn’t clinch the regular season title at Bristol, but he has enough of a lead where he doesn’t have to worry about Busch surpassing him.