denny hamlin waving to fans
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Denny Hamlin takes top spot in NASCAR Cup Standings

A new driver has taken control of the NASCAR Cup Series standings after the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600.

Denny Hamlin, who was fifth at the time lightning and rain brought out the red flag, went from third to first. He now holds a five-point advantage over teammate Martin Truex Jr., who remains in second after a 12th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kyle Larson, who led the point standings the past six races, fell to third in the Cup standings. He entered the weekend 30 points ahead of Truex but did not complete a lap at Charlotte.

The reason is that Larson had set out to attempt The Double, the feat where a driver completes all 500 miles of the Indy 500 IndyCar Series race and then flies to Charlotte to complete all 600 miles of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race.

The goal is to complete all 1,100 miles in one day.

Larson was in Indianapolis Sunday morning but started the prestigious race four hours late due to heavy rainfall. This late start ensured that Larson would miss the start of the Coca-Cola 600 and would not earn any championship points. Instead, replacement driver Justin Allgaier would take over the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Larson lost his 30-point advantage but won Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Now, he is six points behind Hamlin as he pursues the regular-season championship that awards 15 bonus playoff points.

Larson will require a waiver from NASCAR considering that he missed one of the races. The expectation is that NASCAR will grant this waiver and keep Larson eligible for the playoffs.

The NASCAR playoff bubble changed once again

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Twelve races remain before the start of the Cup Series playoffs. Eight drivers have secured spots in the 16-driver playoff field.

Hamlin and William Byron have each won three races. Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson have each won two. Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick, and Daniel Suarez each have one win.

Eight spots remain in the playoff field, many of which will likely go to the drivers that earn the most points. For example, Martin Truex Jr. is 153 points above the playoff cutline. He's in a relatively secure position.

The drivers around the cutline, however, are in drastically different situations.

Bubba Wallace was below the cutline entering Sunday night's race. Now, he is back in a playoff spot after an 11th-place finish at Charlotte in which he scored 13 stage points. Wallace passed Chase Briscoe, who fell out of a playoff spot after finishing 25th in the rain-shortened race.

Chris Buescher holds the final playoff spot. He is 11 points above Briscoe and the cutline. Two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano is 30 points below the cutline as he seeks his first win of the season.

The next opportunity for Logano will be the next race on the schedule. Cup teams will head to World Wide Technology Raceway for only the third time.

Logano won the inaugural Cup race at WWT Raceway in 2022. He then finished third last season behind winner Kyle Busch and runner-up Hamlin. Logano's average finish at WWT Raceway is 2.o.