With just two races remaining before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, four drivers are essentially competing for the final two spots – as long as a first time winner that is 17th or lower in the point standings doesn’t win.
Ryan Newman is currently 15th in the point standings heading into Darlington this weekend, and he is pretty strong at the track. In 20 starts, he has seven Top-Five finishes and 13 Top 10s. Another driver who is strong at Darlington is Jimmie Johnson, who has three wins and nine Top-Five finishes in 20 starts. His wins and Top Fives are the most among active drivers, which bodes well for the driver currently in 18th in the standings, and 26 points behind the 16th playoff spot.
Unfortunately for Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez, Darlington hasn’t been one of their stronger tracks. Suarez, who is currently holding the final playoff spot by three points over Bowyer, doesn’t have a Top 10 in his two starts at the track. Bowyer has 13 races under his belt at Darlington and just one Top-10 finish.
A win this weekend is important for all four drivers as they compete for those final spots.
Drivers who have made the playoffs based on wins are Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman. Drivers who are currently in the playoffs based on points are Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Newman and Suarez.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs return to Kansas Speedway on Oct. 20 with the Hollywood Casino 400.