BRISTOL, Tenn — Erik Jones scored his 3rd career NASCAR Cup Series victory in the Southern 500. That was a highly unpredictable moment in a sense that it was a Petty GMS Racing car going to victory lane in the opening playoff race of the season. Never in the history of the playoffs has a non playoff car won the postseason opener. But never in the history of this sport have we seen a season as unpredictable as this one.
A week later, Bubba Wallace drove to victory lane for the 2nd time of his NASCAR Cup Series career at the Kansas Speedway. It was 23XI Racing’s 3rd win of their young career in the sport too.
6 days after that, it as RFK Racing and Chris Buescher’s turn. It was Buescher’s first win in 222 races and RFK’s 1st in the last 191 starts. That’s 19 race winners in 29 races run this season. Factor in the Duels and the All-Star race to which Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney won 2 of those 3 and you get 32 total races run with 21 winners.
That’s 21 of 31 (68%) drivers to have raced in the series in every race this season reaching victory lane.
Just look at those recent winners in the playoffs even. 7 career wins among them. Meanwhile, a pair of 60 race winners who were in the playoffs were bumped out by a driver with 1 career win. In total, 2 rookies were ahead of 2 future Hall of Famers who have combined to have won 3 of the 8 championships in this playoff format era.
If you go back to the regular season finale at Daytona to where Austin Dillon scored his 4th career win and you get the number of race wins from the last 4 races:
It was as unpredictable opening round as we’ve ever seen and now we’re going to a round with Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL in it.