NASCAR: Race-winning team not allowed in playoffs?

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse, NASCAR, Chicago (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse, NASCAR, Chicago (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The No. 91 Trackhouse Racing Team will not be in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, despite Shane van Gisbergen’s win on the streets of Chicago.

Three-time Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen shocked the NASCAR world on Sunday night at the brand-new Chicago Street Course, becoming the first driver to win his Cup Series debut in more than 60 years with his Grant Park 220 victory.

The 34-year-old New Zealander piloted the No. 91 Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing Team in this darkness-shortened — yet overtime-extended — 78-lap race around the 12-turn, 2.2-mile (3.541-kilometer) temporary street circuit in Chicago, Illinois.

This car has now been entered in three races since the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team announced the PROJECT91 initiative last season. PROJECT91 was designed to give international renowned race car drivers the opportunity to compete in select races at the Cup level.

Former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen drove the car at Watkins Glen International last August and again at Circuit of the Americas in March.

Despite van Gisbergen’s upset victory, the No. 91 team is not in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

The driver playoffs and the owner playoffs are two entirely different postseasons, though that many times goes unrecognized since a lot of the playoff-caliber rides are driven by the same drivers in each and every race on the calendar. The owner playoffs are tied strictly to the results of the car/entry, while the driver playoffs are tied strictly to the results of the deriver.

Entering Sunday’s race, there had been 11 race winners so far this season, and all 11 winners locked not only themselves into the playoff picture but their teams (cars) into the owner playoff picture. That was not the case for van Gisbergen, however.

Because the No. 91 team is not a full-time entry, it is ineligible for the Cup Series owner playoffs. Even if NASCAR granted teams playoff waivers like they do drivers who miss races, Sunday’s win still wouldn’t count toward a playoff berth for the No. 91 team, since the team wasn’t playoff eligible when it happened.

Van Gisbergen himself is also not a playoff-eligible driver.

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

Will the 2023 season’s 19th race produce a 12th different winner among playoff eligible drivers and teams? The Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart is scheduled to be broadcast live on USA Network from Atlanta Motor Speedway starting at 7:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, July 9. Be sure to take advantage of FuboTV’s free trial offer now and tune in!