The NASCAR Cup Series playoff field is after Daytona. Who’s in?

Austin Dillon celebrates at Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Austin Dillon celebrates at Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


The regular season results are in and the NASCAR Cup playoffs are set.

Austin Dillon, with his victory at Daytona thanks to some a calm race through the carnage and a winning move down the home stretch, jumped into the 16-car playoff picture seemingly out of nowhere. But he’s not the only one whose playoff fate was decided on Sunday.

Barring penalties or post-Daytona disqualifications, here are the 16 drivers who cemented their place in the Cup Series playoffs.

The Cup playoffs begin next weekend at Darlington.

16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoff field

Chase Elliott, Chevy: NASCAR’s Most Popular Cup Series Driver captured the regular season points title at Watkins Glen and will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. The driver of the No. 9 car has had four best field wins in 2022 – at Dover, Nashville, Atlanta and Pocono.

Kyle Larson, Chevy: The Elliott Hendrick Motorsports teammate is one of seven drivers with two trips to Victory Lane in 2022. Those two? At the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and at Watkins Glen earlier this month.

Ross Chastain, Chevy: TrackHouse Racing has two drivers in the Cup playoffs, one of them being the #1 car. ‘now. He earned a playoff berth with his two wins — the first at the Circuit of the Americas in March and the second at Talladega in April.

Joey Logano, Ford: The No.22 driver closed a solid season on Sunday, which saw him claim two victories. One was at the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in February and the other was in Darlington in May.

William Byron, Chevy: Winner of two races, Byron won at Atlanta in March and at Martinsville in April.

Kevin Harvick, Ford: The all-time great resurrected his season with back-to-back wins at Michigan and Richmond. The victory at Michigan broke a 65-race winless streak for the 46-year-old pilot, and victory at Richmond’s short track was arguably even more impressive – it showed him walking away from a sack on the stretch like The Closer has done many times before.

Denny Hamlin, Toyota: The 23XI co-owner and #11 driver scored two wins in 2022, including the crown jewel Coke 600 he had never won before. Hamlin took the checkered flag at Pocono in July, but an almost unprecedented disqualification after the race gave Elliott the win.

Denny Hamlin signs autographs before the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, North Carolina on Sunday, May 29, 2022. Khadejeh Nikouyeh

Ryan Blaney, Ford: Despite a disappointing result on Sunday — a result due to heavy damage from a Stage 1 wreck — Blaney squealed in the playoffs, edging out Martin Truex Jr. on points.

Tyler Reddick, Chevy: The #8 car took two wins and was still fast in 2022. Reddick really commanded the only fast car at the Brickyard on Indy’s road course in July. His other victory? America Road.

Christopher Bell, Toyota: The #20 car had so many close but not quite finishes in 2022, but its win at New Hampshire in July cemented its playoff spot.

Chase Briscoe, Ford: The #14 car won at Phoenix in March.

Kyle Busch, Toyota: The two-time Cup Series champion has had an unlucky regular season – and it adds to an already stressful season given his impending free agency – but his win in Bristol in April earns him a playoff spot.

Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet: The driver of car #99 became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he won at Sonoma in June. What a year it’s been for TrackHouse Racing.

Austin Cindric, Ford: The rookie won a wreck-riddled Daytona 500 in February, and that win will take him into the playoffs. He also had a good run in his last attempt at Daytona.

Alex Bowman, Chevy: The #48 car won in Las Vegas in March.

Austin Dillon, Chevy: The No. 3 car, with a bit of rain and luck and steady hands, rode through the late-race carnage at Daytona and ended up with a win on Sunday. The win earned him a playoff berth at the last second.

This story was originally published August 28, 2022 4:26 p.m.

Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC and how the sport intersects with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has also been honored by NC Press Associations and SC. such as APSE, which awarded him top 10 in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in its 2021 writing competition. He previously wrote for The Herald at Rock Hill from 2019-22.

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