Now that the round of 8 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is underway, any further playoff points scored do not matter.
Sunday afternoon’s South Point 400 got the round of 8 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs underway at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and it was Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson who became the first driver to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 for the second time in the last three years.
After becoming the first driver to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 in 2021, he went on to win his first championship, and now he finds himself in a similar situation, not needing to worry about his results in the remaining two round of 8 races before the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.
Larson won Sunday afternoon’s 267-lap race around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Las Vegas, Nevada oval after winning stage one and stage two, so he scored a perfect seven playoff points.
However, at this stage in the game, NASCAR Cup Series playoff points no longer matter.
Playoff points are scored throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Race wins pay five playoff points each and stage wins pay one each, meaning that there are seven on the table in each race — eight in the four-stage Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The playoff drivers who finish in the top 10 in the regular season standings score additional playoff points on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.
Playoff points are added to each remaining playoff driver’s total at the start of each round of the postseason, once point totals are reset.
For example, after point totals are reset to 2,000 ahead of the round of 16, a driver who racked up 26 playoff points in the regular season will have 2,026 points. A driver who scored 34 regular season playoff points and four more in the round of 16 will start the round of 12 with 3,038 points.
These points still mattered ahead of the round of 8, when point totals for the remaining eight championship contenders were reset to 4,000.
But the seven playoff points Larson scored on Sunday — and all further playoff points set to be awarded in the two remaining round of 8 races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Martinsville Speedway — don’t really matter.
The reason for this is the fact that the four Championship 4 drivers all have their point totals reset to 5,000 before the season finale, and playoff points are not added to their totals.
It’s simple: the highest finisher among those four drivers in the season finale at Phoenix is crowned champion. For them, stage points also don’t matter at Phoenix; they still matter at Homestead and Martinsville, however, as at least one Championship 4 spot is guaranteed to be awarded based on points.
The second race of the round of 8 is the 4Ever 400, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NBC is set to provide live coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today if you have not already done so!