Cleat Geeks

Pole Position Prophecies: Elimination Race Landscape

This week NASCAR heads to Dover International Speedway for the last race of the round of 16. The first 2 races of the playoffs have certainly been kinder to some drivers than to others and as a result some drivers have an much easier path to the next round while it’s next to impossible for others. For this we will only talk about drivers that have not locked a spot in the next round (so Both Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will not be mentioned).

Great: Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth are all as good as locked into the next round. Larson has continued his season-long dominance and sits 20 points ahead of the next driver (Brad Keselowski) who sits another 20 points ahead of the next driver. Essentially, as long as someone from the bottom 4 doesn’t win while they ALSO finish last there’s no real way none of these drivers don’t make the cut.

Decent: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Ryan Blaney have all put together solid playoff performances. All 3 drivers sit between 20-30 points above the current cut-off line. Basically as long as they stay out of trouble and finish the race, all 4 of these drivers should make it to the next round.

Bubble: Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse, Austin Dillon, and Ryan Newman should all be start sweating a little as they prepare for Dover. Jamie McMurray is only 10 points above the cut-off line and Stenhouse beats out Dillon for the last spot purely by tie-breaker since both have the exact same points. and Newman is only a single point behind  them. which 2 stay and which 2 go is a complete coin flip, as it currently sits McMurray is the closest to safe, the other 3 must either win the race, or beat each other.

Bad: Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne are the the only drivers this far off the mark. Neither have finished in the top-15 yet in the playoffs and are coming off of dismal New Hampshire finishes (35th and 37th respectively). At 20 points under the cut-off line the only way either Busch or Kahne continue to the next round is by winning Dover, but since neither of them has really shown consistent speed or finishes throughout this season I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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