Who Will Have Their NASCAR Playoff Hopes Wrecked at Daytona Saturday?

Multiple Cars wrecking in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR Race at Daytona 08-28-22
Multiple Cars wrecking in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR Race at Daytona 08-28-22 (Photo credit: YouTube)

The final race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season is Saturday night (8/26) at Daytona International Speedway.

The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will determine what driver gets the sixteenth and final spot on the list of drivers in the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs. There are 13 drivers who have clinched a spot by getting at least one win during the season up to this point. There are two drivers who have clinched a spot based on points they have amassed without winning a race this season.

There is one driver who is currently above the cut line by 32 points. That driver is Bubba Wallace. He can make the Playoffs if he makes sure no driver passes him in points or if he wins the race. If a driver between 17th through 30th in the point standings wins the race Bubba will be pushed out of the Playoffs.

There are two drivers below the cut line by -32 points and -43 points. Those drivers are Ty Gibbs and Daniel Suárez respectively. Either of these drivers could make the Playoffs if Bubba has a disaster of a day and they have a really good day to pass him in points. They could also make the post-season by winning the race no matter what kind of day Bubba has.

The other 14 drivers in the top 30 in the points must win the race to make the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs. You can see the post-season outlook heading to Daytona below.

2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Outlook Following Race #25

With all of that being said, racing at Daytona International Speedway is always a challenge. Drivers and teams have to have cars with good speed and great handling to race at high speeds just inches apart in packs. Even when a driver and team have their car set-up and dialed in, there is not a guarantee of a good day. Find yourself in the wrong spot in a pack when another driver makes a mistake and you can be taken out of the race.

The drivers locked in the Playoffs will likely be aggressive to get more points and momentum heading into the post-season. Drivers needing to win to get in the Playoffs will likely be aggressive to have a chance to be in the post-season. All of this aggression could make for an exciting race for the fans to watch.

Here is what the drivers and teams will be facing this weekend at the track and in the race.

Daytona International Speedway Data:
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 (08-26-23)
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)

Here are the active drivers who have won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway in their careers.

1Denny Hamlin3 Wins2020 (Feb.), 2019 (Feb.), 2016 (Feb.)
2Ricky Stenhouse Jr.2 Wins2023 (Feb.), 2017 (July)
3Kevin Harvick2 Wins2010 (July), 2007 (Feb.)
4Austin Dillon2 Wins2022 (Aug.), 2018 (Feb.)
5Austin Cindric1 Win2022 (Feb.)
6Ryan Blaney1 Win2021 (Aug.)
7Michael McDowell1 Win2021 (Feb.)
8William Byron1 Win2020 (Aug.)
9Justin Haley1 Win2019 (July)
10Erik Jones1 Win2018 (July)
11Brad Keselowski1 Win2016 (July)
12Joey Logano1 Win2015 (Feb.)
13Aric Almirola1 Win2014 (July)
14Kyle Busch1 Win2008 (July)
(Feb. indicates Daytona 500 win – July/Aug. indicates win in summer Daytona race)

Martin Truex Jr. can clinch the 2023 Regular season title by scoring 22 points in the race. That means if he finishes 15th or better, he gets that title and all the bonus points that come with it. If he gets any stage points during the race, he could finish lower than 15th and still win the regular season title.

Who will be the final driver in the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs? We will find out Saturday night, August 26th starting at 6 p.m. central time (7 p.m. eastern time) in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

By: Buck Stevens

Buck Stevens