16 races down, 20 to go in the NASCAR Cup Series season. But, with that being said, that means we’re down to just 10 races left in the regular season. I know the rest of the schedule is still fluid, but if all goes to plan, we will be closing down the 26 race regular season on Aug. 29 at the Daytona International Speedway.
So, where do we sit right now?
We’ve had eight different winners this season which means all eight are locked into the postseason. That in turn leaves eight other wildcard spots available for the taking.
With how we sit, it appears that the bubble is going to be wild this year. Aric Almirola (+111), Kyle Busch (+107) and Kurt Busch (+103) should be good. Barring an unforeseen disaster, I don’t see any of those three falling to a bubble scenario.
But, behind them, that’s where this could get interesting. It’s not like any of the drivers between 12th and 20th are knocking down the door of victory lane. Really, it’s not like any of the wildcard drivers outside of Almirola are in fact. ‘
Both Busch brothers are reeling a bit. Kyle has just one win in his last 37 starts. Kurt, has one win in his last 33. Kyle, has three top six finishes in his last five starts on the season though, but only one top five in his last six. Kurt, has one top 10 in his last five and no top fives in his last eight.
Matt DiBenedetto moved up to 12th in the standings, but he only has two top 10 finishes in his last eight tries. Clint Bowyer has just two top 10 finishes in his last seven starts. William Byron has three top 10’s in his last 12 starts, none of which resulting in a top five even. Jimmie Johnson was cleared to return to his car for Sunday’s race but has scored just two top fives all season. That leaves Austin Dillon who’s six points ahead of Erik Jones but like Bowyer, only has one top 10 in his last seven starts on the year.
Between that grouping, DiBenedetto and Byron have never won a Cup race, while Bowyer and Dillon having not won since 2018 and Johnson since 2017.
Jones, stands the best shot. He’s won a race in each of the last two seasons to go along with two top five finishes in his last four starts on the season and four scored on the season. That’s only two less than the grouping from 12th to 16th combined.
Rookie Tyler Reddick is showing more and more speed and honestly the better of the two RCR cars in terms of speed. He’s only 16 points out.
While saying that, what happens if someone outside of them wins at Daytona? I don’t think anyone outside of the top 11 in the standings is going to win a race in the first 25 regular season events now. So, the 12th spot on back, well they’re going to be battling on points.
That’s why stage points for them is going to be bigger for them to try to accomplish.
Dillon, has 39 stage points scored but only four top 10’s on the season. Jones, has 37 stage points but as many top five finishes as Dillon has top 10’s. Stage points is a key reason to why he’s where he is on the outside looking in.
Reddick, has 48 stage points, but six finishes outside of the top 15 in his last eight starts on the year. If he can continue getting stage points but finish a race well, then he’s going to be a factor for that final spot.
The others have scored a ton of stage points with Byron (69), Johnson (62), Bowyer (61) and DiBenedetto (60) really separating themselves from the rest.
That’s why if they can keep the stage point game going, then this is going to make the wildcard race very interesting.