Updated 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Standings Following Kyle Busch’s Victory in the Bristol Dirt Race

Kyle Busch made the headlines courtesy of Chase Briscoe interpreting the white flag as anything but a signal to surrender on Sunday, but it was Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell making yet another big move in the NASCAR Cup Series.

A third of the way through the regular season, Busch is almost certainly in the playoffs by virtue of winning the Easter Sunday Bristol dirt race. Meanwhile, Bell still possesses just one top-five finish this season, but he has something else of value: momentum.

It’s a dirt race, but Kyle Busch’s win counts like all the others

Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It wasn’t long ago that the two road courses on the annual Cup Series schedule were the outliers. The races counted for purposes of playoff qualification, but there were no road courses among the 10 playoff races. That changed once NASCAR introduced the Charlotte Roval to the fall schedule.

Now, though, the 2-year-old Bristol dirt race is the anomaly. Being adept at cornering on something other than asphalt and then avoiding getting brushed out of contention by Chase Briscoe while heading for the checkered flag will get a driver the victory and an all-but-certain place in the playoffs. Joey Logano was the winner and playoff qualifier last year, and now Kyle Busch sits in that proverbial driver’s seat.

The good news from an integrity standpoint is that Busch, like Logano, is a past series champion and eminently qualified to compete in the playoffs, so it’s not as though a ringer who’s ineligible for Cup Series points or a back-of-the-field regular deprived someone of a playoff shot.

That matters to the guys who potentially will be relying on qualifying for the playoffs via points after race winners chew up most of the 16 spots. And that brings us to Christopher Bell.

Rank Driver Points Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Top 5 Top 10
1 Chase Elliott 324 0 2 2 1 6
2 Ryan Blaney 321 0 3 3 4 6
3 Joey Logano 303 0 0 0 3 5
4 William Byron 295 2 2 12 4 4
5 Alex Bowman 273 1 1 6 2 5
6 Kyle Busch 273 1 0 5 2 6
7 Martin Truex Jr. 253 0 3 3 1 4
8 Ross Chastain 250 1 1 6 5 5
9 Kyle Larson 249 1 1 6 4 4
10 Chase Briscoe 245 1 1 6 2 3
11 Tyler Reddick 241 0 2 2 3 4
12 Aric Almirola 237 0 0 0 1 4
13 Kevin Harvick 225 0 0 0 1 3
14 Austin Cindric 222 1 0 5 1 2
15 Christopher Bell 220 0 0 0 1 4
16 Daniel Suarez 212 0 1 1 2 3

Five races into the season, Bell had finished better than 23rd just once, and he stood 29th in points. A month later, Bell has placed in the top seven three times. After finishing seventh at Bristol, Bell climbed four more positions and is all the way up to 15th in points.

Ty Dillon had a good day in the middle of the Cup Series pack

It doesn’t require winning or even a top-three finish to be able to walk away from a race with a feeling of accomplishment, and Ty Dillon is this week’s Exhibit A. Dillon qualified seventh at Bristol and ran the first half of the race in the top 10. After losing a chunk of ground, Dillon battled back over the final 30 laps and placed 10th.

Aside from earning nine stage points, Dillon picked up 36 race points and moved up four spots in the standings in the No. 42 Chevy. While not necessarily significant in and of itself, the points bonanza moved him ahead of high-profile drivers Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace. That qualifies as a victory for a guy consigned to just the dirt race and three road courses a year ago.

As for Hamlin, he remains the lowest-ranked driver in the standings who has a race victory under his belt. He checked out of Bristol just 91 laps in because of engine issues and finished next-to-last.

Rank Driver Points Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Top 5 Top 10
17 Austin Dillon 210 0 0 0 2 4
18 Chris Buescher 195 0 0 0 0 2
19 Erik Jones 194 0 0 0 1 2
20 Kurt Busch 192 0 0 0 2 4
21 Ty Dillon 166 0 0 0 0 1
22 Bubba Wallace 163 0 0 0 1 1
23 Denny Hamlin 159 1 1 6 1 1
24 Cole Custer 159 0 0 0 0 0
25 Justin Haley 158 0 0 0 0 0
26 Michael McDowell 152 0 0 0 0 2

The battle for top rookie honors is just about over

The NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year Award contest is seldom of much interest because there is generally little driver turnover from year to year. For the 2022 season, NASCAR lists only Austin Cindric, Todd Gilliland, and Harrison Burton as eligible.

Even if he hadn’t started the season with his unexpected victory in the Daytona 500, Cindric would be lapping the competition. He has finished in the top 20 in seven of nine outings and has yet to drop out of the top 16 in points.

Gilliland’s 17th-place night at Bristol was his second-best showing of the season, and Burton finished 20th, roughly his average since bowing out of the first two races in late wrecks.

Rank Driver Points Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Top 5 Top 10
27 Todd Gilliland 132 0 0 0 0 0
28 Harrison Burton 127 0 0 0 0 0
29 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 120 0 0 0 0 1
30 Brad Keselowski 118 0 0 -10 0 1
31 Corey LaJoie 117 0 0 0 1 1
32 Cody Ware 79 0 0 0 0 0
33 BJ Mcleod 60 0 0 0 0 0
34 David Ragan 48 0 0 0 0 1
35 Garrett Smithley 28 0 0 0 0 0
36 Greg Biffle 22 0 0 0 0 0
37 Jacques Villeneuve 15 0 0 0 0 0
38 Boris Said 11 0 0 0 0 0
39 Joey Hand 2 0 0 0 0 0

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