NASCAR Now has TWO Open Playoff Spots Heading to Daytona

2021 Coke Zero Sugar 400 08-29-21
2021 Coke Zero Sugar 400 08-29-21 (Photo credit: YouTube)

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs now have TWO spots available in the Playoffs at Daytona International Speedway thanks to Kurt Busch.

Kurt Busch has withdrawn his request for a medical waiver to hold his spot in the post-season. reports that Kurt will miss the start of the Playoffs and therefore has told NASCAR he no longer wants the waiver to keep his spot in the post-season. That move now opens a second spot for other drivers to make the Playoffs in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, the final race of the regular season.

To begin with, let’s look at the data the drivers will be facing at the track and in the race.

Daytona International Speedway:
Track Size: 2.5-mile
Banking/Turns: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees
Frontstretch Length:  3,800 feet
Backstretch Length:  3,000 feet

Coke Zero Sugar 400 Data
Season Race #: 26 of 36 (08-27-22)
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 miles
Stage 1 Length: 35 laps (Ends on Lap 35)
Stage 2 Length: 60 laps (Ends on Lap 95)
Final Stage Length: 65 laps (Ends on Lap 160)

Now let’s look at the top 10 drivers in over-all driver rating at Daytona International Speedway that will be racing this weekend.

Austin Cindric – 107.0
Kyle Busch – 92.2
Denny Hamlin – 88.8
Joey Logano – 87.9
Ryan Blaney – 86.4
Kevin Harvick – 82.1
Bubba Wallace – 81.5
Brad Keselowski – 80.0
Chase Elliott – 79.8
Christopher Bell – 79.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-Present among active drivers at Daytona International Speedway.

These are the active drivers in this weekend’s race that have won a Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Denny Hamlin – 3 Wins {2020 (Feb.), 2019 (Feb.), 2016 (Feb.)}
Kevin Harvick – 2 Wins {2010 (July), 2007 (Feb.)}
Austin Cindric – 1 Win {2022 (Feb.)}
Ryan Blaney  – 1 Win {2021 (Aug.)}
Michael McDowell – 1 Win {2021 (Feb.)}
William Byron – 1 Win {2020 (Aug.)}
Justin Haley – 1 Win {2019 (July)}
Erik Jones – 1 Win {2018 (July)}
Austin Dillon – 1 Win {2018 (Feb.)}
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 1 Win {2017 (July)}
Brad Keselowski – 1 Win {2016 (July)}
Joey Logano – 1 Win {2015 (Feb.)}
Aric Almirola – 1 Win {2014 (July)}
David Ragan – 1 Win {2011 (July)}
Kyle Busch – 1 Win {2008 (July)}

Since Kurt Busch has essentially withdrawn from the Playoffs, there are now 14 drivers in the post-season based on at least one win during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

There are only two drivers that can make the post-season based on points alone. Those two drivers, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr., have a big enough lead over all other drivers they cannot be overtaken in points. If either of these two drivers win the race to advance to the post-season, the other advances on points.

If there is a repeat winner from 2022 Ryan and Martin advance to the Playoffs.

If there is a new winner that is not Ryan or Martin, the one of them that ends the race higher in points will advance. If they end the race in a tie in points there are a few scenarios for a tie-breaker that you can read about on

The one thing I feel like I can assure you is that there will be plenty of drivers that will be racing all-out to win this week. Drivers locked in the Playoffs want the extra Playoff Points. Drivers that are from 17th to 30th in points want the win to get in the Playoffs. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. want the win to ensure they are in the Playoffs.

With all this desire to win comes aggressive racing. Aggressive racing at Daytona is exciting to watch. However, it can also create huge disasters since they are driving around 200 mph in packs.

It all adds up to a great prime-time race under the lights Saturday night for NASCAR drivers, teams and fans!

It all starts at 6 p.m. central time (7 p.m. eastern time) August 27th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

By: Buck Stevens

Buck Stevens