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NASCAR playoff field for South Point 400 in Las Vegas not yet set

According to the old Roger Miller song, God didn’t make little green apples. But it sure does rain in Indianapolis in the summertime.

Sunday’s Brickyard 400 was supposed to decide the last NASCAR playoff spots heading into this weekend’s inaugural South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before weekendlong rains forced the regular-season finale to be rescheduled for 11 a.m. PT Monday.

Most of the playoff berths already have been determined, but seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will have to race his way in at Indianapolis.

If a driver who already has clinched a playoff spot wins Monday, Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman will advance via the 15th and 16th spots. But should a driver outside the top 16 take the checkered flag, either Johnson or Bowman probably would be knocked out.

Johnson has a 19-point edge on Bowman under NASCAR’s complex point system heading into the finale.

Las Vegan Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. have dominated the 2018 regular season, winning 17 of 25 races. Harvick won the spring race at LVMS; Busch finished second and Truex Jr. fourth.

Others drivers who have punched playoff tickets are Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin.

Unlike at Indianapolis, the weather is expected to be hot and dry in Las Vegas, which could scramble the South Point 400 form sheet.

“I think Las Vegas is going to be a bit of a wild card,” NBC analyst Jeff Burton said of the playoff opener. “It’s going to be over 100 degrees, and that’s going to change the way the cars drive.”

In addition to the second Truck Series playoff race on Friday night and the Xfinity Series on Saturday afternoon, LVMS will host a K&N Pro Series West race on its dirt track on Thursday night.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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