Winning on Sunday invariably boosts morale on Monday when officials release the updated points standings for the NASCAR Cup Series.
Ross Chastain is this week’s driver with a little extra spring in his step. Aside from virtually assuring himself a place in the playoffs beginning Sept. 4 in the Southern 500 at Darlington, Chastain climbed from 10th to fifth on the season points list through the sixth race of the season.
He wasn’t alone in coming away from Circuit of the Americas with positive vibes.
Ross Chastain and Ryan Blaney had a good day
After 121 starts, Ross Chastain finally is a NASCAR Cup Series winner. He rolled his Chevy onto Victory Lane at COTA after holding off AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman in a wild finish, giving newcomer Trackhouse Racing a memorable initial victory in the series.
In his last four races, Chastain has finished third at Las Vegas, second at Phoenix and Atlanta, and now first at Circuit of the Americas. His team has figured out the Next Gen car and is getting top results.
Ryan Blaney is getting close in that respect. He followed fourth place in the Daytona 500 with a couple of disappointments but qualified on the front row three straight weeks since. That has only translated into fourth, 17th, and sixth place at the finish, but the COTA result vaulted him four spots into second place in points, 13 behind Chase Elliott.
|7||Martin Truex Jr.||172||0||1||6||0||3|
Erik Jones and Austin Dillon are lurking on the Cup Series points list
Only 16 drivers will advance to the playoffs, and most will do so by virtue of winning one of the 26 regular-season races. There’s always room for at least one driver to advance based on points, which is why the middle of the pack always bears watching.
Erik Jones gained one spot and Austin Dillon two on Sunday by finishing ninth and 10th, respectively. Christopher Bell was the big upward mover within the group, gaining six spots by finishing third on Sunday. After beginning the week 53 points out of the 16th position on the points chart, he has trimmed the deficit to 46.
A bad day for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Corey LaJoie
Six drivers recorded DNFs, a proven formula for losing ground, at the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix. Ricky Stenhouse was a non-factor all day, but a drive train failure on Lap 55 dropped him 18 spots to 37th in the results. Corey LaJoie bowed out with engine trouble two laps later after an even more nondescript day and finished 36th.
Thanks to last week’s 100-point penalty for an equipment violation, Brad Keselowski continues to bring up the rear among drivers who’ve competed in all six races.
|27||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||92||0||-5||6||0||1|
|(i) — Ineligible (competing in another series)|