NASCAR makes crucial Noah Gragson playoff decision

Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

NASCAR has decided to grant Noah Gragson a playoff waiver, keeping him eligible to qualify for the playoffs if he wins a Cup Series race.

Legacy Motor Club rookie Noah Gragson was sidelined from the most recent NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway after he began experiencing concussion-like symptoms following the previous race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, a race in which he suffered hard contact with the wall.

Fortunately for Gragson, the race at Sonoma Raceway preceded the lone off weekend of the season, giving him more time to recover.

The 24-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native has since been cleared to return to action at Nashville Superspeedway for the Ally 400 this coming Sunday night.

NASCAR has also made the decision to grant Noah Gragson a playoff waiver.

This means that Gragson is still able to qualify for the playoffs, despite the fact that he will not have competed in all 26 races by the time the regular season ends.

He still must find a way in, however, and that will likely take a win.

Gragson sits in 33rd place in the point standings through 16 races, placing him last among full-time drivers. His best finish of the year is a 12th place effort at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and his only other top 20 finish is a 20th place effort at Circuit of the Americas. He hasn’t finished in the top 25 since March.

A win, which Gragson nearly claimed at Talladega Superspeedway back in April, would vault the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet all the way into the playoff picture, though it wouldn’t necessarily secure him a playoff spot since there can still be more than 16 regular season race winners.

There have already been 10 winners through 16 races this year, and a scenario in which there are more winners than playoff spots would result in the lowest ranking single-race winner (or winners) in the standings being left on the outside looking in when it comes time to set the 16-driver postseason field.

With Gragson sitting 188 points below the playoff cut line with 10 races remaining on the regular season schedule, a win is likely what it is going to take for him to even have a shot. It is highly unlikely that he will be able to get in on points.

Notably, drivers no longer have to be inside the top 30 in the regular season point standings for a win to count toward playoff eligibility. This rule was amended before the 2023 season.

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The Ally 400 is scheduled to take place at Nashville Superspeedway this coming Sunday, June 25. It is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV today and be sure not to miss it!