Terrible NASCAR predictions: No. 2 – First-time playoff drivers
We listed five drivers we felt could make the playoffs for the first time in their careers, and yes, that list included Noah Gragson. But even though he already got a dedicated slide, the rest of the list was somewhat of a disaster, as the only driver who actually lived up to expectations was 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace.
As for the other three, Ty Gibbs came close (though we picked him to win the Daytona 500, which also didn’t happen). Justin Haley and Ryan Preece, however, did not, but with Haley having recorded six top 10 finishes, including a runner-up effort in the inaugural Chicago Street Course race, we’re going to focus on Preece.
Stewart-Haas Racing have been absolutely nowhere when compared to some of the sport’s other traditional powerhouse team over the last three seasons, so expecting Preece, who never really performed all that well when he was with JTG Daughterty Racing, to make the playoffs in his first season with a new team was a bit of a stretch.
But he probably should have been able to manage more than two top 10 finishes. He did not finish the season as the lowest Stewart-Haas Racing driver in the standings, but he would have if not for Chase Briscoe’s 120-point penalty.
Give Preece credit, however, for racing the week after his horrifying wreck to end the regular season at Daytona International Speedway, however. That was a win in not only my book but that of many others.