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Shakeup at the Playoff Bubble

The points near the cutoff for the playoffs had a shakeup following Sunday’s Consumer’s Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson fell from 16th and final spot to 18th in the standings after he hit the wall early in the race and had to pit with a flat tire. He finished 34th and is now 12 points behind the bubble.

“It’s super disappointing,” Johnson said. “It’s a little easier when it’s not on you and you can call it a mechanical or a flat or get caught up in a wreck. But, I’m behind the wheel and I’m the one that got us in the fence.”

Ryan Newman, who was 17th in the standings and tied with Johnson heading into Michigan, finished 12th and is now 16 points to the good.

Clint Bowyer is hanging on to the final spot after his day ended on Lap 139 when hit the wall after contact.

“Somebody got in the back of me,” Bowyer said. “When I went around I just saw (Alex) Bowman and thought it was him. I guess maybe the 21 or somebody. As soon as it happened, I was just along for the ride. I don’t know.”

The finish was Bowyer’s sixth finish of 20th or worse dating back to his 35th-place finish in the June Michigan race.

“We have to get something figured out with these race tracks,” Bowyer said. “We are really fast by ourselves, practice and qualifying really well, in the top-five almost every single time but then we start the race and don’t make the grip we need to compete. You can talk about the bubble and worrying about points but I am way more worried about getting established and running up front at these types of race tracks. If you make the playoffs and can’t compete in it then what is the use?”

Bowyer’s teammate Daniel Suarez gained 17 points from last week with his fifth-place finish and is now 17th in the standings, six points behind.

“It was a decent day for us,” Suarez said. “We had ups and downs. There was something wrong, a bad set of tires or something in that second stage. We couldn’t control it. The team was able to overcome that with good adjustments and they put me back in the game with track position and we were able to get a good result from there.”