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Who Has the Edge in the Playoff Points Battle?

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Joshua Lipowski

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The NASCAR Playoff bubble is as close as it has been in years. Drivers both expected to be on the bubble and not expected to be on the bubble are in quite the Playoff race (no pun intended) as the regular season winds down.

The question becomes, which driver has the edge? Not in terms of points, but in terms of the upcoming race track? Here’s an analysis of all four drivers in this Playoff bubble battle.

Ty Gibbs (16th, +3)

Confidence Meter: 7/10

Breakdown

With two road courses on the schedule coming up, some may wonder if that bodes well for Ty Gibbs. Well, he has two top-10 finishes in three road course races this season, and, in the only road course race he did not finish in the top ten, he qualified in sixth. Daytona is a mystery, but Gibbs was in contention at its sister track, Talladega, before running out of fuel.

The biggest thing working against Gibbs is that he is a rookie. He is going up against NASCAR Cup Series veterans who have all been in this position before. The other drivers also have tracks coming up that favor them.

Michael McDowell (17th, -3)

Confidence Meter: 8/10

Breakdown

Michael McDowell just might be the favorite to make the Playoffs from this group, should there be no new winner. He has an average finish of 8.7 on road courses this season, the best out of this group, and he always is a threat at Daytona, even if the results have not been great at similar tracks this year. Michigan was McDowell’s weakest track of the final four, and he came out of it only three points out.

The biggest question is whether or not he and his crew chief can handle something like this. A curious strategy at Richmond cost them valuable points. If they try to get too cute again, then that could be a fatal decision.

Daniel Suarez (18th, -5)

Confidence Meter: 5/10

Breakdown: Suarez is a tough case to get a hold of. He has an average finish this season of 25.3 at road courses, but his average start at those tracks is 6.3. He won at Sonoma last year, so, he can race and win at a road course.

He also has two top-10s and led laps at both Daytona and Talladega earlier this year. He has the capability to get some solid points, but can he find the consistency he needs? That’s what has eluded Suarez and Trackhouse this season, but he is close on points.

A.J. Allmendinger (19th, -24)

Confidence Meter: 3/10

Breakdown: A.J. Allmendinger is in a tough hole for more reasons than just the points deficit. He is a good road course racer, but everyone he is competing with in this points battle is pretty good at road courses too. Even then, Allmendinger has an average finish of only 19th on road courses this season.

Not all hope is lost for him, however. It seems that he is focused completely on trying to win one of these final three races, and both of the next two tracks are where he won his only two Cup Series races. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gamble.

This Playoff Bubble battle is one of the most intense that has happened in recent years. If a new winner happens, though, that would threaten these driver’s Playoff lives.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts