Though we’re simply seven races into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Collection marketing campaign, the playoffs are already coming into focus. By profitable a race, seven drivers have already locked themselves into the postseason if there are not more than 16 winners within the common season in fact.
Three of these seven didn’t make the playoffs final 12 months. First-time winners Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell will make their first profession postseason appearances, whereas Kyle Larson returns after sitting out many of the 2020 season below suspension.
Of those that scored a postseason berth in 2020, a number of have uncharacteristically stumbled out of the gate in 2021 and are properly again of the playoff cutline.
This weekend’s Easter hiatus permits groups a much-needed respite to regroup, however it would possibly take greater than that to discover a coveted spot on the playoff grid. Listed here are these drivers.
A perennial face within the playoffs since 2018, Aric Almirola has undeniably been the worst-performing 2020 playoff driver this season. With a whopping 4 finishes outdoors the highest 30, the Floridian finds himself twenty eighth in factors, the sixth-worst of all full-time drivers.
84 factors outdoors the cutline, Almirola has no selection however to search out some velocity and consistency to actually have a shot, one thing fairly unimaginable to say so early into the season.
Almirola’s struggles haven’t been remoted inside his Stewart-Haas Racing crew. His teammates Cole Custer and rookie Chase Briscoe sit properly outdoors the highest 16 as properly. Custer discovered his approach into the playoffs by pulling off a surprising win at Kentucky Speedway, which additionally propelled him to 2020 rookie of the 12 months honors.
Custer is twenty third in factors, 54 factors out of sixteenth. The Californian’s greatest run of the season was an Eleventh-place end within the season-opening Daytona 500.
Like Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto‘s begin to the 2021 season has been infiltrated by horrible luck. Sitting a distant twenty fourth in factors, DiBenedetto has just one DNF however has suffered mechanical gremlins in almost each different race this season.
Nevertheless, it won’t be a complete shock that DiBenedetto’s No. 21 Wooden Brothers Racing crew is underperforming. It squeaked into the playoffs final 12 months, incomes the ultimate spot after a decent factors battle with Jimmie Johnson.
Playoffs? We speaking about playoffs?
Clint Bowyer has discovered himself in the midst of the playoff dialog as soon as once more, however this time, he’s speaking about them from the Fox Sports activities TV sales space.
Some Nuggets Earlier than You Go
- Together with McDowell, Bell, and Larson, the fourth new face within the playoff grid to this point is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse missed the playoff by a large margin in 2020 and ultimately completed a distant twenty fourth in factors. With no end worse than 18th this season, Stenhouse’s sturdy begin has him 14th on the playoff grid.
- Cody Ware has run all seven races this season whereas Jamie McMurray has solely competed in a single. Extremely, McMurray has almost double Ware’s factors whole up to now. McMurray’s eighth-place Daytona 500 end garnered him 30 factors, whereas Ware has a complete of simply 16 factors in seven races.