NASCAR Cup Series has four playoff spots open with four races remaining
Chase Elliott has four races remaining to save his season.
The 2020 NASCAR champion has raced for the title each of the last three years but has yet to claim a spot in the 16-driver playoff field for 2023. NASCAR's most popular driver missed six races early after breaking his left leg and was suspended for another. Those absences have him sitting 20th in the Cup Series standings headed into Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.
Elliott goes to Michigan this weekend and then road courses at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen before finishing the regular season at Daytona International Speedway on Aug. 26. There have been 12 playoff-eligible winners through 22 races, leaving four postseason spots to be decided this month.
The 10-race playoffs begin at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 3. Here's a look at drivers on the bubble:
The Hendrick Motorsports star hasn't led a lap since late June, a summer swoon that has some wondering whether he will get the victory he needs to make the playoffs. But with two road course upcoming, no one should count him out.
Seven of Elliott's 18 career Cup wins have come at road courses, including two at the Glen.
Harvick is retiring at the end of this season, and the 2014 Cup champion wants to go out with a shot at a second title. He's sixth in the Cup standings, which would be good enough to make the playoffs without a victory providing there are not 16 unique winners.
With six career wins at Michigan, one at the Glen and two at Daytona, Harvick surely has to like his chances to punch his playoff ticket in August.
Keselowski is 11th in the standings and would make the playoffs if there are not 16 different winners.
In his second year of ownership at rebranded RFK Racing, the 2012 champion is trying to get back into the playoffs after last year's rebuild at his new team. He missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons in 2022.
Like Harvick, Keselowski is in solid position to make the playoffs so long as he's not bumped out by four new winners over the next four weeks.
Wallace is still looking for his first playoff berth. He is 15th in the standings, one of two Toyota drivers not already locked into the postseason. Wallace led a season-high 80 laps last week at Richmond International Raceway, but he faded late and finished a disappointing 12th.
He's usually a contender at Daytona but surely doesn't want to go there needing to win.
The 2021 Daytona 500 champion is 16th in the standings, trying to get tiny Front Row Motorsports into the playoffs for the second time in team history. The team earned the automatic berth the year McDowell won the 500.
Although McDowell would be in if the regular season ended today, he has little room for error down the stretch and would need a victory if another new drivers win in the coming weeks.
The reigning Xfinity Series champion is having a decent rookie Cup season for Joe Gibbs Racing and sits 17th in points. If Gibbs could snag a spot, JGR would have all four of its Toyotas in the playoff field.
A playoff driver last year, Suarez is on the outside looking in, winless so far and 19th in points.
Ross Chastain, his teammate at Trackhouse Racing, has qualified and the Chevrolets are strong: Shane Van Gisbergen won for Trackhouse in his NASCAR debut on the downtown streets of Chicago, but he's not eligible for the playoffs.
Suarez has yet to find victory lane this season and has just six top-10 finishes through 22 races.
Cup Series points leader Martin Truex Jr. is in with three wins, as is William Byron, who has a series-best four victories for Hendrick Motorsports. Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell are locked in, giving JGR three cars in the field.
Kyle Busch, in his first season driving for Richard Childress Racing, is locked in with three wins.
Chastain has one win for Trackhouse to secure his spot, same for Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Tyler Reddick in his first season driving for 23XI Racing, and Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Logano is the reigning Cup Series champion.
Kyle Larson, the 2021 champion, has two wins to give Hendrick two drivers locked into the playoff field.
Chris Buescher, who scored his first win of the season Sunday at Richmond, claimed the 12th spot in the playoff field.
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