There is one race remaining on the round of 12 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney became the second driver to clinch a spot in the round of 8 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs by winning Sunday afternoon’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, joining Texas Motor Speedway winner William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports.
As a result, six round of 8 spots remain up for grabs heading into the round of 12 finale at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval this Sunday afternoon, and 10 drivers are going for them.
Among the six drivers above the cut line, it is probably safe to assume that Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin isn’t at risk of being eliminated at Charlotte. But below him, it’s all to play for.
And several drivers have much tougher tasks heading into the 109-lap Bank of America Roval 400 around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile (3.669-kilometer) Concord, North Carolina road course because of where they finished at Talladega.
Three drivers in particular find themselves in much different positions thanks to their disappointing results at Talladega.
NASCAR playoff drivers who missed out: No. 1 – Brad Keselowski
Highlighted by his stage two win, it appeared as though RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski had a great chance to end a two-and-a-half-year win drought at the site of his most recent win — and the site of six of his career wins.
But as Talladega usually does, it knocked out one of the race’s chief contenders in the third and final stage, relegating him to a 32nd place finish.
Keselowski still sits eight points above the round of 8 cut line heading into Charlotte, but he is the eighth and final driver above it. Consider this: that gap would be tripled in size even with what would have been considered a lackluster 16th place finish at Talladega, and he would be ahead of three of the seven drivers he trails.