With the NASCAR Cup Sequence away from the observe this upcoming weekend, groups and drivers get a much-needed break within the motion earlier than the ultimate 10-week dash in direction of the playoffs – adopted by 10 extra weeks of the playoffs themselves.
In 2022, the battle to make the postseason was as intense as NASCAR has ever seen, with 16 totally different drivers punching their ticket with an everyday season win — although the injured Kurt Busch’s spot was taken by winless Ryan Blaney. This 12 months, issues are wanting a bit simpler.
The present sixteenth and seventeenth place drivers – the cutoff between making and lacking the playoffs – are separated by solely three factors. Nonetheless, Alex Bowman, at present sixteenth, missed three races earlier within the 12 months with a again harm. He could be safely in if not for that and can doubtless draw back from these on the surface wanting in.
That mentioned, there’s at all times the potential of any individual else profitable their means in. The apparent candidate to do this is Chase Elliott. Elliott is at present sitting at twenty seventh, however has missed seven races between an harm and suspension. Final 12 months’s common season factors chief, Elliott has now 10 probabilities to earn one win — and his 5 victories final 12 months recommend it is doubtless he’ll. Additionally working in Elliott’s favor, the truth that three of the subsequent 10 races are on highway or avenue programs, a observe sort the place he is earned seven of his 18 profession wins.
Elliott has uncharacteristically struggled this season, main solely 37 laps in his 9 begins whereas solely posting one race with a median working place higher than tenth. His harm is probably going part of that, however the No. 9 staff as a complete appears off — Corey LaJoie additionally disenchanted in his sub function when Elliott was suspended at Gateway.
Elliott will most likely discover his solution to victory lane in some unspecified time in the future or one other, but when he does not, perhaps it is the kind of wake-up name that he and his staff would want. Maybe a crew chief change might be so as if Elliott have been to overlook the playoffs, as all of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates have more energizing faces atop the pit field.
Similar to any sport, NASCAR is healthier when its hottest athlete is having success. We’ll see if Elliott can climb his means up the standings in these coming weeks.