The NASCAR playoffs are nearly over. The remaining eight drivers have a race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday and then a final trip to Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. At that point, only four drivers will move on to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway. The other four will see their dreams of glory come to an end.
There are two ways to secure a spot in the final championship race. The first method is very straightforward — win a race. One of the remaining eight drivers did so at Kansas Speedway on Sunday and automatically booked his spot in the final four. Now there are only three spots remaining but only two races.
The other way to reach the championship race is to sit above the cutoff line in points. Two drivers have a sizable advantage with only two races remaining and could very likely reach Phoenix, provided a competitor doesn't bump them out by winning one of the two remaining races. The others, however, will have to continue to stack as many points as possible. Here's where the final eight drivers stand as the final cutoff race approaches.
Joey Logano, the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang, is in an ideal spot with two races remaining before the championship. He won Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway, his third of the year, and secured his spot in the final race. He will now wait and see which three remaining drivers will join him in Phoenix. If Logano wins the Phoenix race, he will mark the second championship of his career after hoisting the trophy in 2018.prevnext
Veteran Kevin Harvick, the winner of the regular-season championship, nearly secured his spot in the championship race but Logano edged him out in the final laps. He still sits in a favorable position overall with two more events prior to the cutoff. Harvick is 41 points above the cutoff line and has a 21-point lead over Denny Hamlin. Winning one of the final two races will greatly benefit him, but Harvick will still have the points advantage if he remains consistent on the track.prevnext
Denny Hamlin, the man who is partnering with Michael Jordan to start a new Cup Series team, currently sits third in the points. He is 21 points above the cutoff line with two races remaining before the championship. Hamlin's spot is less secure than Harvick's, but he will have an opportunity to steal a win at either Texas or Martinsville. Hamlin has never won a Cup Series championship, posting only a career-best second-place finish in 2010.prevnext
Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Cup Series champion, is by no means safe with only two races remaining. He only sits eight points above the cutoff line, just above Chase Elliott. Keselowski has been one of NASCAR's most-consistent performers during the 2020 season, he plans on reaching the championship race in Phoenix. However, he will likely need to win one of the two races or multiple stages in order to remain ahead of his peers.prevnext
Chase Elliott secured a spot in the final eight by winning at the Charlotte Roval. Now he sits eight points below the cutoff line. He needs to win a race or start stacking points in order to remain in contention for the Phoenix championship. Elliott has never won at Martinsville, but he does have second- and third-place finishes to his name. He has similar results in Texas, posting only two top-five finishes without winning.prevnext
Alex Bowman started the season strong but struggled following the return from a COVID-19-forced postponement. The No. 88 team got more consistent near the end of the season and into the playoffs, and now Bowman sits 27 points below the cutoff line. He has never reached the championship race but could do so by performing better than his peers during the next two weeks. Although Bowman will likely have to win in order to leapfrog Elliott and Keselowski.prevnext
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. won the Cup Series championship in 2017 and has been on a mission to secure the second trophy of his career in 2020. He performed extremely well during the final eight races of the regular season and remained consistent overall during the early rounds of the playoffs. Now, however, Truex is running out of time to stack points. He sits 31 points below the cutoff line and will need to find a way to leapfrog three fellow drivers in order to reach the championship.prevnext
Kurt Busch rounds out the top eight and faces the steepest odds to reach the championship race in Phoenix. The 2004 Cup Series champion reached the round of eight by winning at his hometown track in Las Vegas and remained in the hunt. In order to do so once again, Busch will have to win in the next two weeks. The veteran driver for Chip Ganassi Racing only has one win at Texas but has accrued several top-10 finishes. Similarly, he has two wins at Martinsville along with multiple top-10s.prev