NASCAR Playoffs Final Cut – Post Season Drivers Confirmed
The NASCAR regular season wrapped up this weekend with Martin Truex Jr. finishing 20th in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, but still winning the season trophy. The end of the regular season now leaves us looking ahead to the Playoffs, and the final cut of 16 drivers have been confirmed.Here are all 16 drivers who will be appearing in the post season knockout stages, along with some performance notes from the year that will help you to determine who could have the best chances in the post season.
Bottom Six in the Playoffs Post Season
The bottom five racers that will appear in the playoffs are only separated by two points. Ryan Newman (1-Win), Kurt Busch (1-Win), Kasey Kahne (1-Win), Austin Dillon (1-Win), and Matt Kenseth, all recorded 2005 points during the regular season. Jamie McMurray was slightly behind with 2003, leaving him with the last slot in the playoffs cut.The guys right at the bottom of the table have been generally inconsistent throughout the year. Matt Kenseth is potentially the most interesting one to watch, along with Jamie McMurray. Both have had fairly consistent results throughout the year, Managing top 10 and top 5 finishes in a number of races.
10: Chase Elliott
Elliot won D1 at the Daytona 500 in February, but hasn’t been at the top since that early qualifying race. He was helped into the regular season with a number of top 5 and top 10 finishes throughout the year, so his place in this list is definitely deserved. He’ll need consistency to survive in the knockout stages and he will be eyeing the win that has eluded him throughout all of the regular season.
9: Ryan Blaney
Blaney only had a single win this year, coming right in the middle of the regular season. The rest of his season has been fairly unimpressive, and he only managed to break into the top 10 for a handful of races. He’s nowhere near being a favorite in the post season, but it will be interesting to see whether he can get some good results before the first knockouts begin.
8: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse carried his way to the post season by keeping within the points and notching a couple of wins and a few top 10 finishes in the first half of the season. However, since his win at the Coke Zero 400 in July, he has failed to break into the top 10. The post season will be a struggle for him if he keeps up his average form from the last part of the regular season.
7: Denny Hamlin
Hamling started the season in style with a D2 win at the Daytona 500. After struggling at some points during the first half of the season, he then went on to show a lot of consistency for the second half. He had seven top 5 finishes in the second half, as well as two wins. Since the Pocono 400, he was only out of the top 10 at four events, but never fell out of the top 20. Hamlin definitely has a shot at winning the post season, and his consistency could be key to a strong finish at the end of this year.
6: Kevin Harvick
Harvick has only won once in the season for Stewart-Haas Racing, and despite a high points finish he is not considered to be one of the frontrunners in the playoffs. However, anything can happen in the post season, and the regular season points are not going to matter once we get to the next race. Harvick finished in the top 10 for six of the final ten races, which is a good sign of performance for anyone who is backing this driver.
5: Jimmie Johnson
Johnson ended his regular season with three race wins, putting him only behind the two points leaders in terms of wins. Johnson has won the Sprint Cup Series in the past, and for many he will still be a favorite in the post season. Johnson has managed his points all year but has shown inconsistency, putting him out of the top 10 for most of the second half of the season.
4: Brad Keselowski
Another racer with two 1st place finishes, Keselowski finished 34 points behind the leader in the regular season. His two wins came earlier in the year and his form hasn’t exactly been consistent since then. Throughout the middle of the season he had some low placed finishes including 39th, 38th, 31st, and 39th place finishes in the space of seven races. He failed to break the top 10 in any of the last five regular season races.
3: Kyle Busch
With only two wins during the year, Busch isn’t a high favorite, but he still maintains good form and could be an interesting bet for anyone thinking about the ultimate playoffs winner. He would have placed second in the regular season if not for Larson’s win at the final race. Busch has two 1st place finishes from the season.
2: Kyle Larson
Larson has had a strong year, and is another favorite to win in the playoffs. He has had seven 2nd place finishes, as well as four wins, making him first equal on total win count. His consistency this year will be an advantage in the post season, as long as he can step things up and maintain the promise that he has shown all year.
1: Martin Truex Jr.
The winner of the regular season and the top ranked driver heading into the post season, Martin Truex Jr. is one of the favorites to win the playoffs this year. He has had more wins than any other driver (barring Larson) in the series this year, and finished in the top spot for 18 stages, more than any other racer. There are ten races to go until the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are decided. That’s 10 weeks of intense racing where we will hopefully see the best racing that any of these drivers have shown this year. While Truex is a strong favorite, thanks to his excellent form throughout the season, none of these drivers can actually be ruled out. The playoffs help to reset the field in many ways, and backing some of the lower ranked drivers, like Jimmie Johnson as an example, wouldn’t be a bad move.For the 2017 Tales of the Turtles 400 on September 17th, the regular season performance will still be relevant. Anything beyond that point is still an unknown, and we’ll bring further updates and insights once the playoffs are fully underway.