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Which Playoff Drivers From Last Season are in Must-Win Territory?

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With only three races left until the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, drivers are beginning to shift their focus from pointing their way in, to winning their way into the Playoffs. Which notable drivers that are on the Playoff bubble are now resorting to winning with nothing else?

Chase Briscoe (-197)

Best Chance: Daytona

Breakdown: Briscoe has been in must-win territory for a while now as he sits in 31st place in the standings, 197 points below the Cut-line. It is mathematically impossible for Chase Briscoe to point his way into the Playoffs, so he is literally in must-win territory. Luckily for him, one of the final three races is at Daytona, and every Stewart-Haas Racing driver led at least one lap in the Daytona 500 this season. Although, the Coke Zero Suger 400 at Daytona did not end well for him last season.

Austin Dillon (-145)

Best Chance: Daytona

Breakdown: Austin Dillon has had a difficult season despite his teammate Kyle Busch winning three races and being a legitimate Playoff threat. Technically, Dillon can point his way in, but, it’s virtually impossible unless he wins all of the final three races. So, he must win, and his best chance happens to be Daytona where he won the final race of the regular season last August.

Erik Jones (-121)

Best Chance: Daytona

Breakdown: It’s been a difficult season overall for Erik Jones and Legacy Motor Club, but the 43 team is starting to slowly turn a corner. Jones has three top-10 finishes in the last seven races, and he has not finished worse than 16th. His first career win came at the summer race at Daytona in 2018, so that is the place Erik Jones has to look at for his best opportunity at winning.

Aric Almirola (-81)

Best Chance: Daytona

Breakdown: Aric Almirola has been mulling retirement, but he has gained a bit more speed in recent weeks. He had borderline race-winning speed at New Hampshire before a loose wheel ended his day, and he finished eighth at Richmond. Both his first career win and most recent Cup win came at Daytona, and that is the place for him to win his way into the Playoffs should he find his way in.

Austin Cindric (-53)

Best Chance: Indy Road Course

Breakdown: Austin Cindric may have an outside shot to point his way in, but it’s a very unlikely route. It’s impractical for him to points race at this point, but he has two road courses and a superspeedway coming up. Not only did he win the 2022 Daytona 500, but he also is one of only two drivers with top-10s in both Indy Road Course races.

Alex Bowman (-44)

Best Chance: ?

Breakdown: Alex Bowman’s situation looks very bleak for multiple reasons. A 44 point deficit is possible, but very difficult to overcome. He’s never won a superspeedway race before, and, aside from a third this season at COTA, he has not run particularly well at road courses. It’s hard to truly see where Bowman finds a way to victory lane.

Chase Elliott (-55)

Best Chance: Watkins Glen

Breakdown: Chase Elliott at times has looked like he could point his way into the Playoffs, but his crash at Michigan this past weekend has put him into must-win territory. Luckily for Elliott, his best race track is coming up, Watkins Glen. He has an average finish of 5.7 at the track, and he has two victories there. If he will make the Playoffs, it will happen there.

The races are only going to get more intense from here on out, and these drivers are drivers to watch. How aggressive will they get to win races in the coming weeks?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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