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

Five drivers who made it to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are at serious risk of not making it back to the postseason in 2024.
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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2. Michael McDowell

Front Row Motorsports' Michael McDowell found himself in a similar situation to that of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. entering the 2024 season.

Even with the uptick in performance from Bob Jenkins' team over the last few years, McDowell has never gotten into the playoffs on points. His Daytona 500 win got him in back in 2021, and his victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course got him in last year.

McDowell has had a number of opportunities to win in 2024, most notably at Talladega Superspeedway and Sonoma Raceway, and he has even secured the first three pole positions of his career. He has led 119 laps this year, which is already more than his previous career-high of 97 from last year.

However, even with that newfound front-running capability, he is still nowhere near the cut line on points. The driver of the No. 34 Ford sits in 22nd place in the point standings, placing him two positions lower than teammate Todd Gilliland, and he is 99 points below the cut line.

Quite simply, the 2021 Daytona 500 winner is going to need to find victory lane again in order to secure a third playoff berth in four years, even for as much as his team has improved. Can he make it happen in his seventh and final year with Front Row Motorsports?