Playoff drivers in trouble: Dark horse – Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. currently sits in seventh place in the point standings, but because eight drivers below him in points have found victory lane, he sits in 15th in the 16-driver playoff picture.
Truex, who recently confirmed that he plans to return for the 2023 season, hasn’t finished higher than fourth place in any individual race this year. The start of the Gen 7 era has been somewhat of a struggle for him and the #19 team.
If there are two more winners from below Truex in the standings, or if he experiences a significant drop in points, he could very well miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Playoff drivers in trouble: Dark horse – Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney sits in second place in the point standings, but even he could be at risk if more winners emerge. Because there have been 13 winners already this year, the driver of the #12 Ford only sits in 14th in the provisional playoff picture.
With eight races remaining on the regular season schedule and thus eight more opportunities for new winners to emerge, he could very well drop further.
However, even without a victory, Blaney still has a chance to lock into the playoffs — and yes, he could do so even in the event that there are more than 16 winners.
Blaney sits 33 points behind points leader Chase Elliott, and whether the regular season points champion wins a race or not, he locks into the playoffs.
It’s hard to envision a driver whose top finish is third place winning the regular season championship, but it’s possible.
Which of these drivers will fail to qualify for this year’s playoffs, and how may will fail to do so?