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. 5 - Martin Truex Jr.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Martin Truex Jr. went the entire 2022 season without a single top three finish, and that led to him missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

He bounced back in 2023, winning three races and the regular season championship, but once the playoffs began, he just about disappeared, falling all the way to 11th place in the standings -- ahead of only five other playoff drivers -- before the season ended.

Not since the start of his career -- in fact, a nine-year stretch from 2006 to 2014 -- had Truex recorded back-to-back finishes outside of the top 10 in the point standings.

Truex did manage to make it to the round of 8, but that was largely due to the playoff points he earned throughout the regular season. He did not record a single finish higher than 17th place in either one of the postseason's first two rounds, and it was relatively clear early on that he was a pretender as opposed to a contender.

Truex, who is set to be 44 years old by the time the 2024 season ends, has considered retiring after each of the last two seasons, but he is set to return to the No. 19 Toyota on another one-year deal.

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The question is whether the 2024 season will more closely resemble his 2023 regular season performance or his 2023 playoff performance, as that could play a key role in determining his future. His disappointing 2022 season, coupled with his disappointing 2023 postseason, show that he is by no means a playoff lock.