5 Biggest NASCAR Stars in Danger of Missing 2022 Playoffs

Stewart-Haas Racing

Getty Aric Almirola (left) & Kevin Harvick (right) are both in danger of missing the playoffs.

The NASCAR Cup Series drivers have completed 16 of the 26 regular-season races, and 12 are currently locked into the playoff grid with wins. This currently leaves only four open spots and puts five prominent drivers in danger of missing the playoffs.

Kevin Harvick is the biggest member of this group. The Closer has been a contender throughout his Cup Series career, and he has delivered 58 total wins, as well as the championship trophy in 2014. However, he is currently winless and seven points below the cutline after the trip to Sonoma Raceway.

Harvick is currently in a heated battle with a teammate for the final spot above the cutline, provided there aren’t any more winners. Aric Almirola has a seven-point advantage with 10 races remaining in the regular season, but this could quickly disappear at any one of the upcoming tracks. Neither Almirola nor Harvick is safe, and there is a scenario where both Stewart-Haas Racing drivers miss the playoffs.

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Richard Childress Racing Teammates Battle Again

Tyler Reddick

GettyTyler Reddick will battle Austin Dillon for a playoff spot.

While both Almirola and Harvick battle for points at SHR, two drivers at Richard Childress Racing deal with a similar situation for the second consecutive year. Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick are both below the cutline with 10 races remaining, and they are battling with each other among others to reach the 16-driver playoff grid.

Dillon sits in a worse situation. He is 47 points below Almirola, who holds the final spot among non-winners. The driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet has been in contention for wins several times in 2022, including two runner-ups. He was also inches away from taking the lead in the Coca-Cola 600 and racing his way to Victory Lane, but contact from Kyle Larson sent him spinning into the wall.

Reddick, for comparison, is 42 points below Almirola. He entered the race at Sonoma in the final spot above the cutline, but he ended 13 laps down after a spin and mechanical issues sent him to the garage.

The two RCR drivers dealt with a similar situation during the 2021 season. They both hovered around the playoff cutline during the regular season, and they entered the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in a heated battle. Both remained in contention throughout the superspeedway race, but a crash on the final lap ended Dillon’s day. Reddick was able to finish the race and barely squeak into the playoffs.

Brad Keselowski’s First Season With RFK Racing Featured a Stunning Penalty

Brad Keselowski

GettyBrad Keselowski has faint hopes to make the playoffs.

The 2012 Cup Series champion sits in the worst position among this group of drivers. Brad Keselowski has been a perennial playoff contender with 11 consecutive seasons with a win, but he has dealt with some issues during his first year as a driver-owner at RFK Racing.

For example, Keselowski crashed at both Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. These incidents resulted in finishes outside of the top 30 and further put him in danger of missing the playoffs.

Of course, the biggest setback for Keselowski and the No. 6 team was a stunning penalty. NASCAR announced on March 24 L2-level penalties for RFK Racing due to a violation of Sections 14.1 and 14.5, the modification of a single source supplied part, in the NASCAR Rule Book. As a result, NASCAR docked Keselowski 100 driver points and RFK Racing 100 owner points.

The penalty stemmed from a rear tail panel that the No. 6 team used in three races. They had to make repairs to the piece, but NASCAR competition officials determined that they had not repaired it “adequately enough.” Keselowski also told media members at Martinsville Speedway that the team did not have a suitable replacement.

Keselowski still has faint hopes to reach the playoffs. He is 30th overall in points, so he would become eligible if he won one of the remaining regular-season races. Though Keselowski would have to hope that there were no more than 16 winners in the regular season, or he would become the first driver knocked out of the playoff grid.

Achieving this goal will not be easy, but Keselowski is fresh off a 10th-place finish at Sonoma. He will also make his return to multiple tracks where he has previous wins. He has visited Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway (2011), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2014, 2020), Richmond Raceway (2014, 2020), Daytona International Speedway (2016), and the old configuration of Atlanta Motor Speedway (2017, 2019).

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