NASCAR: 5 playoff drivers who might not be back in 2024

No two NASCAR Cup Series playoff fields have ever been alike, and there is little reason to believe that will change in 2024. Who will drop out?

Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR
Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR / Jay Biggerstaff/GettyImages
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No. 3 - Bubba Wallace

23XI Racing's Bubba Wallace made it to the playoffs for the first time in his six-year career last year, managing to secure one of three spots on points behind the 13 regular season race winners.

He was able to advance to the round of 12, and his "playoff" experience from 2022, when he served as the driver for a playoff team following Kurt Busch's injury, certainly contributed to his ability to make a run. He effectively entered his first true postseason with prior postseason experience.

But there are a few things to note about Wallace's first playoff appearance. First of all, Chase Elliott's No. 9 team took the final spot in the owner playoffs over Wallace's No. 23 team, and Elliott likely would have done the same on the driver side had he not missed seven regular season races.

Wallace does have two career Cup Series wins, but he has yet to win in the regular season, and that is probably going to have to change at some point if he wants to become a postseason regular. Both of his wins are playoff wins -- 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway and 2022 at Kansas Speedway -- yet he was not a playoff driver on either occasion.

He has shown the speed to run at the front, but after a season in which first-year teammate Tyler Reddick scored two wins and a trip to the round of 8, there will be more pressure than ever on Wallace to perform at a high level in year number four with the Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan-owned team.