NASCAR Cup Series playoff field. Here are the 16 drivers in the running for a championship – Charlotte Observer

Austin Dillon celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Austin Dillon celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Florida (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Austin Dillon celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Florida (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

AP

The regular-season results are in, and the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are set.

Austin Dillon, with his win on Sunday afternoon thanks to some calm racing through the carnage and a winning move down the final stretch, jumped into the 16-car playoff picture seemingly out of nowhere.

The Cup post-season starts next weekend at Darlington.

Barring any post-Daytona penalties or disqualifications, here are the 16 drivers who cemented their spots in the Cup Series finals.

16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoff field

Chase Elliott, Chevy: NASCAR’s most popular Cup Series driver clinched the regular-season points title at Watkins Glen and will be a force to be reckoned with in the finals. The driver of the #9 car scored a career-best four wins in 2022 – at Dover, Nashville, Atlanta and Pocono.

Kyle Larson, Chevy: Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate is one of seven drivers with two trips to Victory Lane in 2022. Those two? At Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and at Watkins Glen earlier this month.

Ross Chastain, Chevy: TrackHouse Racing has two drivers in the cup finals, one of them being the number 1 car. Chastain made waves this regular season by driving a rowdy, “physical” style, and it’s proven successful so far. He earned a playoff spot thanks to his two wins – the first at the Circuit of the Americas in March and the second at Talladega in April.

Joey Logano, Ford: The No. 22 driver on Sunday capped off a solid season that saw him notch two wins. One was at the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum in February, and the other was at Darlington in May.

William Byron, Chevy: A two-race winner, Byron won at Atlanta in March and Martinsville in April.

Kevin Harvick, Ford: The all-time great revived his season with back-to-back wins at Michigan and Richmond. The victory at Michigan snapped a 65-race winless streak for the 46-year-old driver, and the victory at Richmond’s short track was arguably even more impressive – it featured him pulling away from a pack down the stretch as The Closer had done many times before.

Denny Hamlin, Toyota: The 23XI part owner and number 11 driver scored two wins in 2022, incl the Coke 600 crown jewel he hadn’t won before. Hamlin took the checkered flag at Pocono in July, but an almost-unheard-of post-race disqualification handed Elliott the win.

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Denny Hamlin signs autographs before the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, NC, on Sunday, May 29, 2022. Khadejeh Nikouyeh Knikouyeh@charlotteobserver.com

Ryan Blaney, Ford: Despite a disappointing result on Sunday – a result of some major damage sustained in a Stage 1 wreck – Blaney squeaked into the playoffs, edging out Martin Truex Jr. in points.

Tyler Reddick, Chevy: The #8 car notched two wins and was consistently fast in 2022. Reddick commanded truly the only fast car. at the Brickyard on the Indy road course in july His other win? Way America.

Christopher Bell, Toyota: The #20 car has had so many close-but-not-quite finishes in 2022, but his win at New Hampshire in July cemented his playoff spot.

Chase Briscoe, Ford: The #14 car won in Phoenix in March.

Kyle Busch, Toyota: The two-time Cup Series champion had a regular season riddled with bad luck – and that’s piling on to an already stressful season considering his looming free agency – but his win at Bristol in April gets him a final.

Daniel Suarez, Chevy: The driver of the #99 car became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he won at Sonoma in June. What a year it has been for TrackHouse Racing.

Austin Cindric, Ford: The rookie won a wreck-riddled Daytona 500 in February, and that win will get him into the playoffs. He also had a good run in his last test at Daytona.

Alex Bowman, Chevy: The #48 car won in Las Vegas in March.

Austin Dillon, Chevy: The No. 3 car, with some rain and luck and steady hands, navigated through Daytona’s late-race carnage and ended up with a win and a last-second playoff win on Sunday.

This story was originally published August 28, 2022 4:26 p.m.

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Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC and the ways in which sports intersect with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been honored by the NC and SC Press Associations, as well such as the APSE, which awarded him with Top-10 finishes in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in its 2021 writing contest. He previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill from 2019-22.

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