The NASCAR Cup Series playoff field is a mix of experience and youth, new faces and others returning after time being left out.
Chase Elliott begins the postseason at the top of the leaderboard on the strength of four wins, 40 playoff points, and the regular-season championship. Defending series champion Kyle Larson, also of Hendrick Motorsports, is seeded fourth.
Elliott and Larson are two of 11 drivers returning from last year’s playoff grid. The new faces this season are Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suarez, and Austin Cindric, all making their first career Cup Series playoff appearances.
Cindric is the only rookie on the playoff grid. Meanwhile, there are five former champions going for another title: Elliott, Joey Logano, Larson, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch.
Austin Dillon’s walk-off win at Daytona puts him back in the postseason for the first time since 2020. He joins teammate Tyler Reddick, who is making his second straight appearance.
Hendrick Motorsports qualified all four of its drivers. Team Penske did the same with its three. Trackhouse Racing is not only in the playoffs for the first time, but also with both of its cars. Joe Gibbs Racing has three contenders, and Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing have two.
It’s eight Chevrolet drivers versus five Ford drivers versus three Toyota drivers.
Seeded playoff grid:
1. Chase Elliott: 4 race wins, 5 stage wins, 40 playoff points
2. Joey Logano: 2 race wins, 5 stage wins, 25 playoff points
3. Ross Chastain: 2 race wins, 5 stage wins, 20 playoff points
4. Kyle Larson: 2 race wins, 3 stage wins, 19 playoff points
5. William Byron: 2 race wins, 3 stage wins, 14 playoff points
6. Denny Hamlin: 2 race wins, 3 stage wins, 13 playoff points
7. Ryan Blaney: 0 race wins, 5 stage wins, 13 playoff points
8. Tyler Reddick: 2 race wins, 2 stage wins, 12 playoff points
9. Kevin Harvick: 2 race wins, 0 stage wins, 12 playoff points
10. Christopher Bell: 1 race win, 2 stage wins, 11 playoff points
11. Kyle Busch: 1 race win, 2 stage wins, 10 playoff points
12. Chase Briscoe: 1 race win, 4 stage wins, 9 playoff points
13. Daniel Suarez: 1 race win, 2 stage wins, 7 playoff points
14. Austin Cindric: 1 race win, 1 stage win, 6 playoff points
15. Alex Bowman: 1 race win, 1 stage win, 6 playoff points
16. Austin Dillon: 1 race win, 0 stage wins, 5 playoff points
The playoffs begin Sunday, Sept. 4, at Darlington Raceway, followed by Kansas Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway making up the first round.