NASCAR: Chris Buescher not locked into playoffs?

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

There is still technically a scenario in which Chris Buescher doesn’t make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, but we’re probably more likely to see a meteor strike.

RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher scored a popular victory on Sunday afternoon at Richmond Raceway, making him the 12th different winner who is eligible for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

RFK Racing have undergone a bit of a rebuild since adding Brad Keselowski as a full-time driver and team co-owner ahead of the 2022 season, and it is the driver of the No. 17 Ford who has taken advantage the most.

Buescher ended a more than six-year win drought last September at Bristol Motor Speedway, and he added to his short track success in Sunday’s Cook Out 400, holding off Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin following a late restart to secure his second win in the last calendar year and first win of the 2023 season.

There are just four races remaining on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season schedule.

As a result, there can be, at most, 16 different playoff eligible winners in the regular season. Trackhouse Racing Team’s Shane van Gisbergen, who won the inaugural street course race in Chicago, doesn’t count.

With 16 playoff spots, it would appear as though all playoff eligible winners — and all future playoff eligible winners — will take part in the postseason.

But because there is one scenario in which Buescher could miss the playoffs, we have to lay out all of the possibilities — even if we are more likely to see pigs fly — and cannot say that he has mathematically locked up a playoff spot.

If four new winners emerge in the final four regular season races at Michigan International Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Watkins Glen International, and Daytona International Speedway, there will be 16 playoff eligible drivers for 16 playoff spots.

But there could technically be a 17th playoff eligible driver if the regular season champion is winless, as the playoff spots officially go to the regular season champion and the 15 drivers who rank next highest in wins.

In the event that there are more playoff eligible drivers than spots, the tiebreaker to determine which single-race winners get in and which don’t becomes points.

The 30-year-old Prosper, Texas native currently only ranks sixth among the seven single-race winners, but fortunately for him, the closest non-winner to the top of the point standings is Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who is 110 points behind.

So even if we get four new winners over the next four weekends, we can probably forget about the idea of a winless regular season champion. This means that, for all intents and purposes, Buescher is locked into the playoffs — even if there is still that 0.000001% chance that he misses out.

FanDuel Sportsbook is now offering fans an instant $100 just for betting $5 and lists Buescher as at +3700 to win this year’s title.

Here are the favorites to secure the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

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

Will a 13th different playoff eligible driver win the FireKeepers Casino 400? The race is set to be broadcast live on USA Network from Michigan International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, August 6. If you have not yet taken advantage of FuboTV’s offer, begin a free trial now and don’t miss it!