NASCAR: 5 drivers who could earn their first playoff spot

Ty Gibbs, Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Ty Gibbs, Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Justin Haley, NASCAR
Justin Haley, Kaulig Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Drivers who could steal their first playoff spots: No. 5 – Justin Haley

Another team on the rise is Kaulig Racing, which are set to field entries for two full-time drivers for the first time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Justin Haley is set for his second full season with the team behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet, and the No. 16 Chevrolet is now set to be driven full-time by A.J. Allmendinger. Allmendinger owns the team’s lone Cup Series win, having won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course back in 2021 before they competed full-time in the series.

Like Bubba Wallace, Haley is a former Cup Series race winner, but he has never qualified for the playoffs. Haley pulled off what is arguably the sport’s all-time greatest upset when he won the rain-shortened race at Daytona International Speedway in July 2019, doing so in just his third career start as a part-time driver for Spire Motorsports.

Haley’s success in the Cup Series has been somewhat sporadic, but he was solid down the stretch last year, earning two top five finishes, including a third place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, in the final seven races of the year. He also finished in third at Darlington Raceway earlier in the year.

Matt Kaulig’s team entered NASCAR in the 2016 Xfinity Series season and became race winners in 2019, and now they consistently compete for championships in the series — despite actually considering quitting after earning their first win.

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

While the Cup Series is a whole new animal, their current trajectory suggests that more wins could be in store in the near future, and the Winamac, Indiana native is poised to benefit.