A primer on the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs

 

From Staff Reports

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs consist of 16 drivers. The regular season points leader qualifies for the playoffs, even without a win. Additional drivers automatically qualify for the playoffs with a win – if there are no more than 16 winners – in the first 26 races. Playoff positions not filled with a race winner are filled based on point standings. There are four rounds of playoffs. Round of 16: Darlington, Richmond, Bristol. Round of 12: Las Vegas, Talladega, Charlotte. Round of 8: Kansas, Texas, Martinsville. The Championship Race at Phoenix. A win during a playoff automatically advances the driver to the next round. The bottom four drivers at the end of each round are eliminated. The highest-finishing driver at Homestead is the champion. Here are the drivers ranked at the top of the playoffs: FIRST: Kyle Larson, 29. He started racing at age 7 and moved up from “outlaw karts,” winged and non-winged sprint cars, trucks and into stock cars. He leads in points with five wins. SECOND: Ryan Blaney, 27. He’s the son of NASCAR driver Dave Blaney and grandson of modified dirt track legend Lou Blaney. He competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 12 Mustang GT for Team Penske. THIRD: Martin Lee Truex Jr., 41. He competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 19 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity series, driving JGR’s # 54 Toyota Supra, part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, driving the # 51 Toyota Tundra. He’s the son of racer Martin Truex Sr. FOURTH: Kyle Busch, 36. His first driving lessons came at 6, when he drove around the cul-de-sac of his family’s Las Vegas neighborhood in a makeshift go-kart. He couldn’t reach the throttle; his dad controlled the vehicle as Busch drove. Busch worked in the family garage with his dad and older brother Kurt. FIFTH: William Clyde “Chase” Elliott, 26. He competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports. He won the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide championship. That made him the first rookie to win a NASCAR national series championship, and also the youngest champion in that series. SIXTH: Alex Bowman, 28. He started his racing career on short tracks in Arizona and California in 2000 at age 7, driving quarter midget cars in U.S. Auto Club competitions. By 2006, he had won nine national championships. He competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving for Hendrick Motorsports. SEVENTH: Denny Hamlin, 40. He began racing with go-karts. By 16, he was racing mini-stocks. In his first stock car race, at Langley Speedway, Hamlin won pole position and won the race. He made his Busch Series debut at Darlington. EIGHTH: William Byron, 23. He competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports. He won the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship and Sunoco Rookie of the Year award in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. NINTH: Joey Logano, 31. Nickname: “Sliced Bread.” Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske. Logano was 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. TENTH: Brad Keselowski, 37. Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 2 Ford Mustang GT for Team Penske. He was owner of Brad Keselowski Racing, which fielded two full-time teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. ELEVENTH: Kurt Busch, 43. Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Chip Ganassi Racing. He’s the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, 2017 Daytona 500 winner, and is the longest-tenured active driver in the Cup Series in career starts. TWELFTH: Christopher Bell, 26. He drives the # 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 2017, Bell won the Chili Bowl Nationals, winning that contest again in 2018 and 2019. THIRTEENTH: Michael McDowell, 36. Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 34 Ford Mustang for Front Row Motorsports. He is the 2021 Daytona 500 champion. FOURTEENTH: Aric Almirola, 37. Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. Nickname: The Cuban Missile because of his Cuban heritage. FIFTEENTH: Tyler Reddick, 25. Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Richard Childress Racing. He is a back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, in 2018 and 2019. SIXTEENTH: Kevin Harvick, 45. Competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the # 4 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. Nicknames: The Closer and Happy Harvick.

Here are the drivers and their rankings, points, etc. in the startup line:

Recent Past Winners and Upcoming Races:

Author: Rachel Howell

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