Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Wet New Hampshire race boosts Joey Logano into playoff picture

The NASCAR Cup Series playoff picture has changed once again after a race featuring a red flag delay and dozens of laps on wet-weather tires.

Bubba Wallace, who entered the weekend six points to the good, is now the first driver outside of a playoff spot. A crash started by Noah Gragson sliding on slick paint dropped him 13 points below the cutline. Joey Logano, who finished 32nd and three laps down, took Wallace's spot.

The biggest difference-maker in this bubble battle was the number of stage points. Logano scored a race-high 17 stage points, and he ended the day with 22 points. Wallace missed out on stage points and ended the day with three points.


The 23XI Racing driver is not the only one to miss out on points due to a crash. Kyle Busch finished 35th after three separate crashes, including one that occurred under caution as drivers prepared for a restart on wet-weather tires.

Busch was only eight points below the cutline two weeks ago despite finishing 35th at Gateway and 12th at Sonoma. A mechanical issue at Iowa Speedway led to another 35th-place finish as Busch fell to 31 points below the cutline. The race at New Hampshire dropped the two-time champ to 45 points below the cutline.

While Busch and Wallace lost points at New Hampshire, multiple other drivers capitalized on the ability to use wet-weather tires. Chase Briscoe, in particular, raced his way from outside the top 20 to second. He locked up 35 points and moved closer to the cutline. He is now only 25 points back of Logano.

Josh Berry crossed the line third, his fourth top-10 finish in the last six races. He scored eight stage points and moved to 19th in the Cup standings. Berry is still 73 points below the cutline, but he continues to move closer.

Another significant change also occurred at the top of the playoff standings.

Christopher Bell has made a major move after winning his third race of the season and his second in the last five weeks. Bell now has 22 playoff points, the second-most in the series. He only has one fewer playoff point than Kyle Larson, who has one more stage win.

These points will be crucial at the start of the playoffs considering this is when mistakes occur far more frequently. Larson, Bell, and Denny Hamlin (19 points) will have some cushion built in as they try to move through the early rounds of the playoffs.