Despite not being a NASCAR Cup Series playoff driver this year, Chase Elliott advanced his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team to the round of 12.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott may not be a playoff driver for the first time in his eight-year NASCAR Cup Series career, but his No. 9 team was the 16th and final team to qualify for the owner playoffs.
The drivers who replaced Elliott in the seven regular season races he missed were still eligible to score points, and that was the difference between the No. 9 team getting in and the No. 23 23XI Racing team of Bubba Wallace, who took the 16th and final spot in the driver playoffs himself, getting in.
Elliott and the No. 9 team posted the third best average finish (7.00) in the round of 16 of the playoffs, and they were never really under threat of dropping below the round of 12 cut line, even with very few playoff points entering the postseason.
NASCAR’s most popular driver knows he still has a title to fight for, and even as a non-playoff driver, he is clearly going for it.
Because of the fact that Elliott advanced his No. 9 team to the round of 12 of the owner playoffs and Wallace himself advanced to the round of 12 of the driver playoffs, even though his No. 23 team is not a playoff team, the eliminations were the same in both the driver and the owner playoffs.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 team, Team Penske’s Joey Logano and his No. 22 team, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his No. 47 team, and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell and his No. 34 team have all been knocked out of championship contention following the round of 16.
Aside from the situations involving the No. 9 team and Wallace, the remaining 11 competitors in the driver playoffs align with the remaining 11 teams in the owner playoffs, though depending on where the No. 9 team and Wallace end up in their respective round of 12 standings, that may not be true in the round of 8 — or the Championship 4.
The round of 12 is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, September 24 with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, which is set to be broadcast live on USA Network beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss this race or any of the remaining races on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoff schedule!