Only 1 Driver Has Avoided Elimination Before Bristol

Christopher Bell

Getty Christopher Bell (front) has the points lead heading to Bristol.

The NASCAR Cup Series season continues to create intrigue. There is only one race remaining in the Round of 16, but only one driver has punched his ticket to the Round of 12.

Christopher Bell, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, secured his spot in the next round with a strong points day at Kansas Speedway. He won Stage 1, finished second in Stage 2, and third overall behind Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin. This was a strong enough performance to give him the points lead, as well as a spot in the Round of 12.

Bell is currently 58 points above the cutline with a trip to Bristol Motor Speedway, and he is the only one that is safe. Now he can simply head to the short track and focus on methodically stacking points instead of battling for the all-important win like some of the other drivers.

William Byron sits in a similar situation, albeit one that does not involve a secure spot in the Round of 12. He is second in the points after a solid sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway, and he is 48 points above the cutline. He should be relatively safe heading toward the Tennessee short track.

The Battle at the Cutline is Heating Up

Kansas Speedway

GettyCup Series drivers race at Kansas Speedway.

There are several drivers that are in a great position heading to Bristol Motor Speedway. Bell is secure in the Round of 12 while both Byron and Denny Hamlin are well above the cutline. Joey Logano is also 40 points above the cutline despite a 17th-place finish at Kansas Speedway.

The drivers near the cutline, for comparison, are in a much different position. The first three drivers below the cutline are within striking distance while the three above the cutline could easily face elimination with the smallest mistakes on the track or on pit road.

Chase Briscoe is nine points below the cutline while Austin Dillon is three points back. Kyle Busch is closest to the final transfer spot as he sits a mere two points below the cutline. Austin Cindric and Tyler Reddick are the first two drivers above the cutline, but they are only two points to the good. The driver of the No. 8 should feel fortunate that he is above the cutline after a 35th-place finish due to a hard collision with the wall.

Daniel Suarez is in the best position among those closest to the cutline. Though he isn’t in the safest position. He is six points above the cutline after the first two races, and he will now head to a track where he has two career top-10 finishes.

1 Driver Continued His Consistent Season

Ryan Blaney

GettyRyan Blaney sits well above the cutline.

There was only one driver that was able to secure a spot in the playoffs without a win. That man was Ryan Blaney, the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford. He posted the third-most points during the regular season, and he put himself in a position to stay above the cutline entering the playoffs.

Blaney has continued to stack points amid a winless season. He finished 13th at Darlington while other playoff drivers dealt with numerous issues. He then went out and finished ninth at Kansas Speedway after scoring points in all three stages. This includes a second-place finish in Stage 1.

Blaney is still fifth in the championship standings with one race remaining in the Round of 16. He sits 36 points above the cutline as he prepares to take on a chaotic short track. He doesn’t have a win at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he has five career top-10 finishes and two top-fives. This includes a fourth-place finish during the 2021 playoffs.

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