NASCAR: The case for — and against — all 16 playoff drivers

NASCAR Cup Series Championship Trophy - Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Trophy - Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR
Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR – Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR playoff contenders: No. 7 – Kyle Busch

The 2023 season is the first season since 2007 in which Kyle Busch is not driving the No. 18 M&M’s-sponsored Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Instead, he is behind the wheel of the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. While many doubts and question marks lingered entering the season following the surprising switch, Busch has put those to rest and looks set to make a deep run in the 2023 playoffs.

The case for Kyle Busch

With three wins and plenty of speed, Busch has already silenced many of the critics, and he wasted no time in doing so, nearly winning his first Daytona 500 before bouncing back and winning the second race of the season at Auto Club Speedway the following weekend. Busch has since gone on to add two more wins at Talladega Superspeedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Busch is no stranger to the playoffs, having made five straight Championship 4 appearances from 2015 to 2019 and winning two titles along the way. With the playoff experience he has under his belt, writing him and the No. 8 team off at any point would likely be a big mistake.

The case against Kyle Busch 

While he has had plenty of speed and a few wins this year, Busch has seemingly regressed in the last few weeks. He only has one top five finish in the six most recent races, along with two last place finishes. Though he did have fast cars in many of these races, early accidents and mechanical issues have hampered him more and more often.

With the playoffs starting, however, Busch now has very little room for error, and if he fails to snap out of his cold streak, he could be in for an early exit like he experienced last year.