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Major Playoff Bubble Changes After Atlanta

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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The chaotic race at Atlanta on Sunday night made for some big changes in the NASCAR Playoff grid. How did the Playoff Bubble change following Atlanta, and how did out “Bubble Busters” perform?

How Our “Bubble Busters” Performed?

Last week, we put together a list of “Bubble Busters” who could potentially throw NASCAR’s Playoffs for a loop at Atlanta. How did each of these drivers do?

Corey LaJoie: Finished 27th; involved in an accident on lap 123.

Aric Almirola: Finished 18th; Led 46 of the first 47 laps

Austin Dillon: Finished 21st; Led 0 laps

Chase Elliott: Finished 13th; Led 0 laps

Erik Jones: Finished 11th; Led 0 Laps

None of these potential “Bubble Busters” were much of a factor late in the race on Sunday night. Aric Almirola showed some potential early, but he was not able to stay up front throughout the night. Therefore, the winner is not what produced the crazy Playoff implications that happened

Biggest Bubble Changes

Here is how the Playoff Bubble looks following the race at Atlanta, with the amount of places in the standings gained or lost in parentheses. The entire bottom of the Playoff bubble completely changed following Atlanta. Here is the bubble and the big performances that caused the major changes.

  • 12. Kevin Harvick: +126 (No Change)
  • 13. Chris Buescher: +102 (No Change)
  • 14. Brad Keselowski: +100 (No Change)
  • 15. Daniel Suarez: +3 (+2 Positions)
  • 16. Michael McDowell: +3 (+2 Positions)

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  • 17. Bubba Wallace: -3 (-2 Positions)
  • 18. A.J. Allmendinger: -13 (+1 Position)
  • 19. Ty Gibbs: -26 (-3 Positions)
  • 20. Austin Cindric: -38 (+2 Positions)
  • 21. Justin Haley: -41 (No Change)
  • 22. Alex Bowman: -44 (-2 Positions)
  • 23. Chase Elliott: -60 (+1 Position)
  • 24. Corey LaJoie: -70 (-1 Position)

Daniel Suarez: A second place finish for Daniel Suarez moved him from out by six points to in by three points. It’s certainly not the win he hoped for, but it was still a big performance for him considering the Trackhouse wins of the past two weeks with Ross Chastain and Shane Van Gisbergen

Michael McDowell: A gutsy pit call to leave Michael McDowell out there on fumes under caution gave him a much needed top-5 finish. The good run at the Chicago Street Course the week before also gave him some valuable points. McDowell is in great position to point both his and Front Row Motorsports’ way into the Playoffs for the first time in either McDowell’s career or FRM’s existence

Bubba Wallace: A late spin to bring out the last caution dropped Bubba Wallace out of the Playoffs. It was a disappointing run for a guy who is known for how good he is on superspeedways. Since his last top-5 finish at Charlotte, Wallace has only one finish inside the top-15, a 15th place finish at Nashville.

Ty Gibbs: Ty Gibbs came into the weekend inside of the Playoff bubble by six points, but he left out by more than 20. He got caught up in a crash around the halfway point, which pretty much ended his day. He has had trouble consistently rekindling that performance he had early in the season when he had four straight top-10s.

Alex Bowman: Alex Bowman is dropping dangerously close to must-win territory. He simply has not had the same performance he had earlier this season since he returned from his back injury. Now 44 points below the cut-line, what once seemed like a certainty to some in Bowman making the Playoffs, is now a question mark.

Conclusion

This weekend’s race at New Hampshire is not quite the wild card that Atlanta or the Chicago Street Race was, but it is a track that has produced surprise winners before. Aric Almirola won there in 2021, a race that turned the Playoff grid upside down. Could one of these drivers do the same this weekend?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts