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Cup Series Playoff Watch: Who Bursts the Bubble at Nashville?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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This is part one of a weekly series for the final 10 weeks of the regular season where we will analyze the Cup Series Playoff field week to week. Nashville Superspeedway is this weekend, and drivers are looking to both burst the Playoff bubble or work their way into the Playoffs on points. Who are these drivers?

The Playoff Bubble Drivers to Watch

The Cup Series Playoff Bubble is about as tight as it has ever been. Currently, 10 drivers sit within one race above or below the cut-line on points. Here is that current bubble, with the three drivers to watch this weekend in bold.

  • 15. Bubba Wallace +26
  • 16. Alex Bowman +3

  • 17. Daniel Suarez -3
  • 18. Ty Gibbs -11
  • 19. Michael McDowell -14
  • 20. A.J. Allmendinger -33
  • 21. Austin Cindric -39
  • 22. Corey LaJoie -40
  • 23. Justin Haley -47
  • 24. Todd Gilliland -52

Bubba Wallace ran decent last season at Nashville finishing in 12th, and he feels like he is close to breaking through. Yes, his last two starts have left something to be desired, but he is on pace for his best statistical season in the Cup Series. 23XI can win races, and, with Wallace only two drivers above the cut-line, winning a race is the best way to lock himself into the Playoffs.

Daniel Suarez and Team Trackhouse have been underwhelming this season in NASCAR, but Nashville is a home game of sorts for Trackhouse. They have an office in Nashville, and the pressure is on for them to perform this weekend. Expect a big weekend for Trackhouse, and Suarez has a huge opportunity to both make up some points and get a surprise win.

Ty Gibbs has struggled a bit these past few weeks, but he ran well as Nashville last season in the Xfinity Series. Joe Gibbs is definitely a race team that can win races, and Ty will win a Cup Series race at some point. He has a chance to do something that rookies rarely do, make the Playoffs.

Bubble Busters

Many drivers from top teams find themselves either close to or well within must-win territory. Bubble busters are absolutely a possibility every week heading into this Playoff push. Who are the “Bubble Busters” to watch out for heading into this weekend.

Chase Elliott is the defending race winner at Nashville, and he is heading into a stretch of races where he had five consecutive top-2 finishes last year including three wins. If he is going to win a race, it will likely come in this five race stretch. The general expectation is that Elliott will win at some point, but this is a race where he has a great chance to do so.

Austin Dillon ran in the top-15 in the first two races at Nashville, and he is in race-winning equipment as proven by his teammate, Kyle Busch. Dillon is no doubt on a trek to prove himself, with the pressure being applied by his teammates performance. It just feels that at some point, he will find his way moving towards the front.

Chase Briscoe is a driver to watch with a new crew chief on the way. Despite how tough of a year that Stewart-Haas Racing has had, Briscoe has shown speed at times this weekend. If he is going to win a race, this is the weekend to start.

Nashville is looking to be an interesting weekend when it comes to the Playoff bubble. With so many good drivers from top teams outside of the Playoffs and NASCAR’s immense parity, it is hard to predict exactly how it will play out. Even if Nashville is not considered a typical “wild card” race track.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts