There are several drivers who qualified for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs but are at risk of not qualifying in 2022. Here are the five facing the biggest threat.
The second half of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season is well underway, and the playoff picture is looking more and more interesting after each and every race weekend.
Four drivers who didn’t qualify for last year’s playoffs are already among the 12 who have won a race this year, with one even winning twice. Those four drivers are Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain (two wins), Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe, and Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain.
If we assume that the winners will all qualify for the postseason, that means that, at most, only 12 drivers from last year’s postseason will make it back this year. So at least four will not.
Without knowing which four quite yet, as there are still 10 regular season races remaining, here is a list of five playoff drivers from a year ago who are at the highest risk of not getting back this year.
Playoff drivers who could be in trouble: No. 1 – Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola got off to a hot start in 2022, reeling off three straight top six finishes. In fact, he was the only driver to finish the season’s first two races in the top 10, which allowed him to singlehandedly keep alive a streak that goes all the way back to 1974.
Despite the hot start, and the fact that his lowest finish (26th place) in 15 races is the best worst finish among full-time drivers, he has slowly but surely dropped toward the bottom part of the playoff picture, as he has recorded just two top 10 finishes in 13 races since his run of top six results.
Last year, he needed an upset win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to clinch a playoff spot. While he still sits in 16th and final place in the playoff picture, he may very well find himself needing to win again to solidify his spot.
He does still sit in 11th place in the point standings, but additional new winners over the course of the regular season’s final 10 races could continue to push up that playoff cut line.