NASCAR: Did Martin Truex Jr. clinch a playoff spot?

Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Martin Truex Jr. won the Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but that win doesn’t lock him into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

After a winless 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season which saw him fail to finish a single race inside the top three, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. opened up the 2023 campaign with a victory in the Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The 2017 champion, who missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014, is in a contract year this year after opting to forgo retirement and return to Joe Gibbs Racing on a one-year deal behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota.

However, his win doesn’t lock him into the playoffs.

The Busch Light Clash is a non-points race that isn’t officially a part of the 36-race NASCAR Cup Series calendar.

It is one of two exhibition races on the schedule, along with May’s All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Wins in those two races don’t count toward playoff eligibility.

In order for a win to count toward playoff eligibility, it must come in the 26-race regular season. In addition to the two exhibition races, this excludes the Bluegreen Vacations Duels Daytona 500 qualifying races and the Bristol Motor Speedway heat races.

Of course, even a regular season win doesn’t necessarily lock a driver into the playoffs, as there are 16 playoff spots and 26 regular season races.

The 16 playoff spots go to the drivers with the most wins. If there are more than 16 winners, the tiebreaker among single-race winners is points. If there are fewer than 16 winners, the tiebreaker among non-winners to fill the field is points. All multi-race winners lock in, as there cannot be any more than 13 of them before the start of the postseason.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

The official season opener is the 65th annual Daytona 500, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 19. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!