Only four races remain in NASCAR’s regular season, and several big names are on the brink of missing the postseason.
So far, 13 drivers have won races and clinched a spot in the postseason, including Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.
If the playoff started today, the last three spots would be filled by Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.
Clint Bowyer is the first driver on the outside looking in, and even his fifth place finish at Watkins Glen didn’t help him gain any ground since Kenseth finished second.
Bowyer is 28 points behind Kenseth, and he will likely have to win one of the four remaining races to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Otherwise, he will miss the postseason for the second straight year.
Joey Logano is 95 points behind Kenseth, and he has had a rough stretch of races since his encumbered victory at Richmond. Logano had another bad finish at Watkins Glen, and like Bowyer, he will need a win down the stretch to make the playoffs.
Rookies Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones are behind Logano, and despite the fact that neither will likely make the postseason, they’ve both had successful seasons for rookie drivers.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last season has been a victory lap without any victories. Earnhardt didn’t finish a race for the seventh time this season at Watkins Glen, and it’s been one disappointing finish after another for him in his final year.
Earnhardt winning a race late to clinch a playoff berth would be a great storyline for NASCAR, but based on how he’s fared so far this year, it’s unlikely it happens.
The last four races of the regular season are at Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Richmond Raceway.