Three drivers are battling for the final two playoff spots heading into the final race of the regular season. But everything could change with Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway if there is an upset winner.
Matt DiBenedetto leads William Byron, who holds what would be the final playoff spot, by five points. Jimmie Johnson, the first driver outside a spot on the playoff grid, is four points behind Byron and nine points behind DiBenedetto. Byron leapfrogged Johnson on the playoff grid Sunday at Dover.
Should a driver behind Byron win Saturday night’s race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC), they would take a spot in the playoff grid and move the cutline up, reducing the number of drivers who make the playoffs via points.
Among the recent Cup winners at Daytona have been Erik Jones (July 2018) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (July 2017). Both are both outside a playoff spot entering this weekend.
Also, Kevin Harvick clinched the regular-season title - and the 15 playoff points that go with it - on Sunday at Dover. Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch also clinched a playoff spot via points Sunday.
Here is a look at the Cup playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Cup playoff grid. The playoffs begin with the Sept. 6 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.