NASCAR's playoff field filling up

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NASCAR's playoff field filling up


NASCAR's playoff field filling up


With one race left to determine the NASCAR Cup Series playoff field, 13 drivers have now clinched their spot.

Aric Almirola, reigning champion Kyle Busch, and Kurt Busch all clinched via points after the Dover doubleheader, and Clint Bowyer just missed adding his name to the list. Bowyer has a 57-point advantage on the cutline and needs three points next weekend to lock up his spot in the playoffs.

“We have been consistent in our hunt for the playoffs all season,” said Kurt Busch. “With today’s finish, not what we hoped for, but we locked-in. I’m proud of everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. Teamwork is what it’s all about.”

“Great job from everyone on bouncing back today,” said Almirola. “I need to do better, we all need to do better, and we just need to keep grinding with the playoffs coming up. We didn’t have a clean race today again and still found ourselves leading laps and running in and around the top-five.

“Our goal when we started the season was to make Daytona not matter before the playoffs, and we accomplished that goal by clinching our spot in the playoffs today. Looking forward to heading there with no pressure, and racing one last time for that regular-season win.”

The final regular-season race will be at the Daytona International Speedway oval on Saturday, August 29.

Matt DiBenedetto and William Byron hold the final two spots on the playoff grid, but neither will be breathing easy as their advantages are slim, with DiBenedetto sitting nine points above the cutline and Byron four points.

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is the first driver below the cutline. Johnson is looking to avoid missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Erik Jones and two rookies, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell, are the rest of the top 20.

Playoff grid:

1. Kevin Harvick: 7 wins, 42 playoff points

2. Denny Hamlin: 6 wins, 37 playoff points

3. Brad Keselowski: 3 wins, 21 playoff points

4. Chase Elliott: 2 wins, 16 playoff points

5. Joey Logano: 2 wins, 14 playoff points

6. Alex Bowman: 1 win, 9 playoff points

7. Ryan Blaney: 1 win, 8 playoff points

8. Martin Truex Jr.: 1 win, 7 playoff points

9. Austin Dillon: 1 win, 5 playoff points

10. Cole Custer: 1 win, 5 playoff points

11. Aric Almirola: clinched

12. Kyle Busch: clinched

13. Kurt Busch: clinched

14. Clint Bowyer: 0 wins, +57 points above the cutline

15. Matt DiBenedetto: 0 wins, +9 points above the cutline

16. William Byron: 0 wins, +4 points above the cutline

17. Jimmie Johnson: 0 wins, -4 points below the cutline

18. Erik Jones: 0 wins, -50 points below the cutline

19. Tyler Reddick: 0 wins, -69 points below the cutline

20. Christopher Bell: 0 wins, -176 points below the cutline