Following the race weekend at Dover International Speedway, three drivers have now officially secured spots in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs via their point totals.
Entering the second of two races of this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Dover International Speedway, the only drivers who had secured their spots in this year’s four-round, 10-race playoffs were the 10 drivers who had won at least one of the season’s first 24 races.
That changed in the 25th race, the penultimate race of the regular season.
While Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick won the race and he now has a series-high seven wins this season (and had already locked himself into the playoffs several months ago), three more drivers have now clinched playoff berths following this 311-lap Drydene 311 at the four-turn, 1.0-mile (1.609-kilometer) high-banked Monster Mile oval in Dover, Delaware.
These three drivers are now enough points of the playoff cut line, even if that cut line moves up by one spot with an upset winner in the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, August 29, that they cannot mathematically fall out of one of the 16 playoff positions.
These three drivers are Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch. The playoff cut line is currently between Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Jimmie Johnson. Byron has scored 632 points so far this season while Johnson has scored 628. Almirola leads that cut line by 112 points while Kyle Busch leads it by 91 and Kurt Busch leads it by 72.
If a driver from outside of the current playoff picture were to win the regular season finale, however, that playoff cut line would effectively move up to between Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto, who has scored 637 points so far this season, and Byron.
Almirola and the Busch brothers have clinched playoff berths because of where they are in relation to where that cut line could be. Almirola is ahead of that mark by 108 points while Kyle Busch is ahead of it by 87 and Kurt Busch is ahead of it by 68.
A total of 60 points are available for each driver in each race, 55 for non-winners. Stage one wins pay 10 points, stage two wins pay 10 points, race wins pay 40 points and second place finishes pay 35 points.
Just barely missing out on clinching his playoff spot this past weekend was Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer. He sits 57 points above the playoff cut line, but only 53 points above where it could be, which is within that 55-point threshold.
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series regular season-ending Coke Zero Sugar 400 is set to be broadcast live from Daytona International Speedway on NBC beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 29.