While 15 drivers are guaranteed to be in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, 17 drivers will fight for the final spot Saturday at Daytona.
Bubba Wallace holds the final spot by 32 points over Ty Gibbs. Gibbs and Daniel Suarez are the only drivers who could still mathematically point their way into the playoffs.
Again, this is all if there isn’t a new, playoff-eligible winner.
Here’s a look at what strengths each playoff hopeful faces in their quest to become a playoff driver this season:
DRIVERS MATHEMATICALLY-ELIGIBLE FOR FINAL SPOT
16) No. 23 Bubba Wallace (+32 points)
If Wallace scores no stage points, he needs at least a 14th-place finish to secure his first playoff berth.
17) No. 54 Ty Gibbs (-32 points)
Gibbs would have to finish with at least 33 points more than Wallace and only give up 10 points to Suarez — with no new winners not already locked into the playoffs — to earn a playoff berth in his rookie season.
18) No. 99 Daniel Suarez (-43 points)
Suarez would have to score at least 43 more points than Wallace and at least 11 more points than Gibbs to make the playoffs on points.
Suarez has qualified for the playoffs once – last season.
MUST-WIN SITUATION DRIVERS
19) No. 16 A.J. Allmendinger
Allmendinger has made the Cup Series playoffs once (2014).
20) No. 48 Alex Bowman
Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2018, Bowman has qualified for the playoffs in each of the last five seasons. Although, he has no wins on superspeedway tracks.
21) No. 9 Chase Elliott
The 2020 series champion has qualified for seven straight playoff appearances and three consecutive Championship 4 appearances.
22) No. 2 Austin Cindric
The 2022 Daytona 500 champion has one playoff appearance (last year).
23) No. 31 Justin Haley
Haley has never made the Cup Series playoffs, but won the summer 2019 Daytona race. He was also a standout superspeedway racer in the Xfinity Series
24) No. 41 Ryan Preece
Preece has never qualified for the Cup Series playoffs and has yet to post a win in the series.
25) No. 10 Aric Almirola
Almirola, the summer 2014 Daytona winner, has qualified for the playoffs three times and last made the postseason in 2021. Among his two other wins is a win at Talladega in fall 2018.
26) No. 38 Todd Gilliland
Gilliland, in his second full-time year, has never made the playoffs. Two of his five career top-10 finishes are on superspeedway tracks.
27) No. 7 Corey LaJoie
LaJoie has never won a Cup Series race, but has four Top-10 finishes on superspeedway tracks.
28) No. 43 Erik Jones
Jones, the 2018 summer Daytona winner, has qualified for the playoffs twice, but not since 2019.
29) No. 3 Austin Dillon
Dillon has been in this position before, getting the win in last summer’s Daytona race to earn a playoff spot. He has qualified for the playoffs five times.
One of his few other Cup Series wins was a victory
30) No. 21 Harrison Burton
Burton is in his second season driving full-time in Cup. He’s never won a race nor made the playoffs.
31) No. 14 Chase Briscoe
Briscoe has one playoff appearance, last year, where he advanced to the Round of 8.
32) No. 77 Ty Dillon
Dillon is in his sixth full-time season. He has never made the playoffs or won a race, but has earned five of his seven career Top-10 finishes on superspeedway tracks.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. ET on NBC and MRN Radio.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.