The NASCAR playoffs continue on Sunday with the South Point 400 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are only 12 of the 16 playoff drivers alive after the Bass Pro Shops Night Race cutoff event. Which drivers are still in contention for the Cup Series championship trophy?
With seven races remaining on the playoff schedule, there are several past champions alive in the hunt, including 2019 champion Kyle Busch. He has not secured a victory in 2020, but the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry is on the hunt for a win and a spot in the next two rounds. Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola, and Kurt Busch will all join him in Las Vegas for the next three races.
7️⃣ to go.September 20, 2020
Following last Saturday's race, there are four drivers no longer in the playoffs. William Byron, the winner of the final regular-season race is out after finishing 14th in the standings. Rookie of the Year Cole Custer finished 13th in the standings after the first three playoff races but did not move on to the second round. Similarly, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto finished on the outside looking in after struggling during the first round of the playoffs.
The NASCAR playoffs are unique in that the field starts at 16 and dwindles to four over the course of 9 weeks. There are three races in the opening round and then the field drops to 12. Three more races determine the final eight drivers and then another three sets the final four. This quartet of champion hopefuls will then head to Phoenix Raceway in search of the biggest win of the year.
Of the drivers remaining in the chase, Harvick, Keselowski and Hamlin sit in the best position. They have the most points and currently face the best odds to reach the next round. Although none of these competitors will have a sense of complacency heading toward Las Vegas' race. They know that continuing to win provides the best opportunity to reach the championship race.
The defending champion in Busch, however, knows that he has to find a win or several top finishes during the next three races. He is currently sitting in 10th overall, outside the cutoff line. His brother Kurt, Bowyer and Almirola all face similar circumstances. If this quartet can't achieve success quickly, they will see their championship hopes fade away.