2021 Playoffs Precursor

2021 Playoffs Precursor

Anna Kasulas, Staff Writer

The Playoffs, the most anticipated time of year and what decides our champions. As we approach Darlington this weekend, Cup will be starting their playoff run and Trucks will be going into their second playoff race. While they are essentially just starting their playoff runs, Xfinity won’t be starting until Las Vegas in late September.


The basis of getting into the playoffs is “win and you’re in.” Drivers eligible for the championship who have won a race during the regular season and met the minimum points position (Cup: top 30: Xfinity and trucks: top 20) qualify for the playoffs. In the case that there happen to be few unique race winners then spots in the playoffs, then the remaining spots will be filled based on regular-season points. In the Finale at Phoenix Raceway the Championship Four drivers race for the title, the first to cross the line of the four is crowned the champion.

Cup Series Playoffs

Each year in the playoffs there are a total of sixteen championship-eligible drivers, four drivers are cut every three weeks to leave us with the Championship Four. Their cut off races are Bristol Motor Speedway (September 18), Charlotte Roval (October 10), and Martinsville Speedway (October 31). These are our sixteen drivers this season: 

Kyle Larson 1 Martin Truex Jr 2
Ryan Blaney 3 Kyle Busch 4
Chase Elliott 5 Alex Bowman 6
Denny Hamlin 7 William Byron 8
Joey Logano 9 Brad Keselowski 10
Kurt Busch 11 Michael McDowell 12
Christopher Bell 13 Aric Almirola 14
Tyler Reddick 15 Kevin Harvick 16

Harvick and Hamlin got in by amassing a large amount of points despite not winning a race, while Reddick barely got in on points. The major question here is will Elliott be able to defend his title or will someone such as his teammate Larson spoil his plan?

Xfinity Series Playoffs

The Xfinity playoffs are much like that of Cup, except instead of sixteen drivers there are twelve. Their cut off races consist of Charlotte Roval (October 9) and Martinsville (October 30). Their playoffs start much later in the season due to there being less drivers competing for the championship. This is how our projected playoff picture looks with three races left:

Austin Cindric 1 AJ Allmendinger 2
Justin Allgaier 3 Justin Haley 4
Daniel Hemric 5 Jeb Burton 6
Harrison Burton 7 Myatt Snider 8
Noah Gragson 9 Brandon Jones 10
Jeremy Clements 11 Riley Herbst 12

Only half of these drivers have won this season including Snider, J. Burton, Haley, Allgaier, Allmendinger, and defending champion Cindric. Herbst is in a heated battle with Michael Annett to claim his spot in the playoffs. He is also amongst drivers many are surprised to see in the playoffs along with Gragson and Clements.

Camping World Truck Series Playoffs

In the 2020 season NASCAR changed the number of championship-eligible drivers from eight to ten, some may even call this the “KBM Rule.”  Two then four drivers will be cut off every three weeks to decide our Championship Four. Cut off races for this series include Bristol (September 16) and Martinsville (October 30). The reason their playoffs begin so early though there are less drivers than Cup and Xfinity is because they run less races than the other two. Here are our ten championship-eligible drivers:

John Hunter Nemechek Sheldon Creed 2
Ben Rhodes 3 Matt Crafton 4
Stewart Friesen 5 Austin Hill 6
Carson Hocevar 7 Todd Gilliland 8
Zane Smith 9 Chandler Smith 10

Half of these drivers have won this season which includes Nemechek, Creed, Rhodes, Hill, and Gilliland. The most surprising of these drivers to most is the Smiths (not related). C. Smith has shocked everyone with his ability to make the playoffs, while Z. Smith has because he hasn’t had the best season.


Keep an eye out as the playoffs go on to see who our 2021 champions will be.