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The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs At the Halfway Point

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What’s Happening?

The NASCAR Cup Series season is now 12 races old, and this weekend marks the halfway point of the 2024 regular season. While there is still a lot of time left, some drivers have either dug some deep holes or have found themselves sitting pretty. This is the current state of the Cup Series Playoff Race.

  • We will separate current Cup Series drivers into different categories based on where their Playoff standing currently is. Whether drivers are locked in, on the bubble, or are in need of a win.
  • This is the point in the season where the Playoffs begin to come into focus. Drivers have a good idea of where they stand and what they need to do to make it.
  • Fans love to talk about Playoff standings due to how important they are. This helps determine the NASCAR Cup Series Champion, and that’s always something fans are interested in.

Locked In on Wins

Drivers: Denny Hamlin (3 Wins), William Byron (3 Wins), Kyle Larson (2 Wins), Chase Elliott (1 Win), Tyler Reddick (1 Win), Christopher Bell (1 Win), and Daniel Suarez (1 Win)

Each of these drivers is currently in the Playoffs on wins. While there still technically can be more than 16 winners, that’s never happened in the Playoff era. Denny Hamlin, William Byron, and Kyle Larson all have multiple wins, so, they are the only ones currently locked into the Playoffs.

Feeling Good on Points

Drivers: Martin Truex Jr. (+155), Ryan Blaney (+84)

Both Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney are well over 1 race ahead of the Playoff cut-line. They both have shown winning speed at points this season, so, a win is not out of the question. Even then, if there are not too many new winners, these drivers should be safely in the Playoffs.

Safe….For Now

Drivers: Ty Gibbs (+55), Alex Bowman (+53), Ross Chastain (+48)

Each of these drivers is all within 1 race of the cutline, but, they are still solidly above. They each can win races, so, that’s a nice bonus as well. However, a few bad races or several new winners lower in the standings can derail their season.

The Playoff Bubble

Drivers: Chris Buescher (+33), Kyle Busch (+31), Chase Briscoe (+7), Brad Keselowski (+4), Bubba Wallace (-4), Joey Logano (-18)

These 6 drivers are all in the midst of the Playoff fight. One bad race can swing their standing one way or another, and wins are absolutely at a premium for this group. Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano have all come close to wins at various points this season, so, these four feel pretty safe for now. Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe are also searching for victory lane, but, we haven’t seen winning speed out of them.

Must-Win Territory

Drivers: Noah Gragson (-71), Austin Cindric (-72), John Hunter Nemechek (-82), Carson Hocevar (-87), Josh Berry (-91), Todd Gilliland (-97), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-101), Michael McDowell (-102), Erik Jones (-106), Daniel Hemric (-112), Ryan Preece (-115), Corey LaJoie (-121), Austin Dillon (-129), Justin Haley (-153), Harrison Burton (-158), and Zane Smith (-180)

Each of these drivers are more than 1 full race out of the Playoffs. It’s not mathematically impossible to come back from this deficit, but, no one has ever made such a comeback. Some drives are looking at the wild card races like road courses (Michael McDowell, Austin Cindric, and Justin Haley) others are looking at superspeedways (Noah Gragson, Corey LaJoie, Austin Dillon), and others are hoping for good short truck runs (Ryan Preece and Josh Berry). If any of these drivers make it in, it will take a win.

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are 14 races away. The field is starting to shape up already, but, a lot can still happen.

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