Full NASCAR point standings for 2021 if there were no stages

Always a topic of interest among NASCAR fans, here is how the final 2021 Cup Series standings would have looked if not for stage points.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was the 18th consecutive season during which some kind of postseason format was used to determine the champion, and it was the eighth season during which the current four-round, Championship 4 format was utilized.

However, NASCAR underwent a change ahead of the fourth season of this format in 2017 when stage racing was introduced, and points became awarded to the top 10 drivers in each of the first two stages (three for the annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway). Points are still awarded to all drivers at the end of each race.

Unsurprisingly, if you completely remove playoffs and stages from the equation, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson, who won 10 of the season’s 36 races en route to securing his first career title, still would have been crowned champion at Phoenix Raceway like he was on Sunday, November 7.

Of course, this means we took the liberty of assuming that every single race would have panned out the exact same way, effectively implying that teams would have strategized the exact same way without stage points on the line.

This obviously wouldn’t be the case, but with all other things being equal, we can at least somewhat take for granted that things would even out in the long run.

So assuming all other things remain equal, how would the full 2021 point standings have looked among the 31 full-time drivers without stages or playoffs?

NOTE: Actual standings finish is included to the right, after the colon. Top 16 in actual finish made the playoffs. This list includes all assessed points penalties.

1. Kyle Larson – 1054 (-): 1st
2. Denny Hamlin – 1036 (-18): 3rd
3. Kevin Harvick – 950 (-104): 5th
4. Ryan Blaney – 922 (-132): 7th
5. Chase Elliott – 917 (-137): 4th
6. Martin Truex Jr. – 916 (-138): 2nd
7. Joey Logano – 891 (-163): 8th
8. Kyle Busch – 889 (-165): 9th
9. Brad Keselowski – 869 (-185): 6th
10. William Byron – 846 (-208): 10th
11. Austin Dillon – 822 (-232): 17th
12. Tyler Reddick – 797 (-257): 13th
13. Kurt Busch – 786 (-268): 11th
14. Alex Bowman – 784 (-270): 14th
15. Christopher Bell – 778 (-276): 12th
16. Matt DiBenedetto – 726 (-328): 18th
17. Chris Buescher – 714 (-340): 19th
18. Ross Chastain – 666 (-388): 20th
19. Bubba Wallace – 643 (-411): 21st
20. Aric Almirola – 632 (-422): 15th
21. Erik Jones – 627 (-427): 24th
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 626 (-428): 22nd
23. Chase Briscoe – 625 (-429): 23rd
24. Michael McDowell – 605 (-449): 16th
25. Daniel Suarez – 604 (-450): 25th
26. Cole Custer – 567 (-487): 26th
27. Ryan Newman – 537 (-517): 28th
28. Ryan Preece – 522 (-532): 27th
29. Corey LaJoie – 433 (-621): 29th
30. Anthony Alfredo – 351 (-703): 30th
31. Quin Houff – 176 (-878): 31st

The championship battle still would have come down to the final race based solely on points, though that battle would have been between only Larson and Hamlin. Larson would have entered the season finale with a 12-point lead over Hamlin.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to begin with the 64th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 20.

In the meantime, have a Happy Thanksgiving!