today is Jun 08, 2023

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While the idea of having 16 or more different NASCAR Cup Series winners still seems unlikely, the math is getting interesting.

Nashville Superspeedway (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, NBC) marks 10 races to go in the regular season. There have been 12 different winners through the first 16 races — Daniel Suarez the most recent with his first career victory at Sonoma Raceway. There have yet to be more winners than playoff spots in this elimination-style format, with a few drivers always making it in on points.

There is a notable discrepancy between the overall championship standings and the playoff board, as it stands today: There are a number of drivers who have won races that are buried in the point standings but will automatically make the postseason at the expense of others higher in points.

The championship standings look like this:

1. Chase Elliott (1 win)

2. Ross Chastain (2 wins)

3. Kyle Busch (1 win)

4. Ryan Blaney

5. Joey Logano (2 wins)

6. Martin Truex Jr.

7. Kyle Larson (1 win)

8. William Byron (2 wins)

9. Alex Bowman (1 win)

10. Christopher Bell

11. Aric Almirola

12. Kevin Harvick

13. Chase Briscoe (1 win)

14. Tyler Reddick

15. Austin Dillon

16. Erik Jones

There are a number of big-name drivers inside the top 16 in points who have yet to win this season: Blaney, Truex, Bell, Almirola, and Harvick. Reddick, Dillon, and Jones could be capable on any given weekend.

Drivers who won last year that have not this year include Michael McDowell, Bubba Wallace and Brad Keselowski.

So again, the math certainly makes it intriguing to talk about the chaos that would ensue should there be 16 or more winners — even if most of the drivers don’t believe it’s going to happen, coupled with past precedent.

On the flip side, some teams who are putting together a consistent season are going to be left out in the cold, the way things are going. Wins trump points racing when it comes to fighting for a spot around the bottom of the playoff standings.

Here is how the playoff grid looks after 16 races based on reseeding:

1. Ross Chastain (2 wins; 13 playoff points)

2. William Byron (2 wins; 13 playoff points)

3. Joey Logano (2 wins; 12 playoff points)

4. Denny Hamlin (1 win; 12 playoff points)

5. Chase Elliott (1 win; eight playoff points

6. Kyle Larson (1 win; seven playoff points)

7. Daniel Suarez (1 win; seven playoff points)

8. Kurt Busch (1 win; six playoff points)

9. Kyle Busch (1 win; six playoff points)

10. Alex Bowman (1 win; six playoff points)

11. Chase Briscoe (1 win; six playoff points)

12. Austin Cindric (1 win; six playoff points)

13. Ryan Blaney +95 above cutline

14. Martin Truex Jr. +65 above cutline

15. Christopher Bell +28 above cutline

16. Aric Almirola +7 above cutline

Harvick is the first driver below the playoff grid, seven points behind his teammate Almirola. Then comes Reddick, 42 points back. After that it’s Dillon and Jones sitting 19th and 20th.

Harvick, Reddick, Dillon, and Jones would all miss the playoffs at this point despite being top-16 in points.

The races remaining before the playoffs start are: Nashville, Road America, Atlanta, New Hampshire, Pocono, Indianapolis, Michigan, Richmond, Watkins Glen and Daytona.

Meanwhile, the regular-season championship and the 15 playoff points that come with it are still up for grabs. Elliott leads Chastain by 16 points, Kyle Busch by 23, Blaney by 25 and Logano by 30 points.

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