NASCAR: 3 drivers most likely to climb into the playoff picture

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) /
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Cole Custer, NASCAR
Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Drivers most likely to enter the playoff picture: #2 – Cole Custer

Continuing on with the late flat tire theme, we have Cole Custer.

Custer hasn’t been flashy in year number two, just one year after an upset victory at Kentucky Speedway launched him into the playoffs and made him the Rookie of the Year as opposed to the third highest rookie in the final point standings, but you can tell that he has made big improvements in the way he is going about each and every race.

He was slated for a top five finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway after solid finishes of 11th and 13th place to open up the season at the Daytona International Speedway oval and road course, respectively, but a late flat tire cost him nearly 20 positions, and he ended up in 23rd.

His only truly disappointing performance so far this season came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he finished in 25th place, but Stewart-Haas Racing as a whole completely whiffed on that event. Even Kevin Harvick ended up in 20th, a lap off the lead lap, after starting from the pole position and starting the year with three consecutive top six finishes.

But even with the recent misfortune and lack of a top 10 finish, he sits in 19th place in the point standings, which is actually higher than he would have ended up last season if not for the automatic playoff berth he earned via his surprising win. He sits just 10 points below the cut line. Long-term, he should be fine.