Thanks to Kurt Busch’s victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway this past weekend, one less spot is available for a driver to make the playoffs based on points. Now with five races to go before the 16-driver playoff field is locked in, 12 of the 16 drivers who are currently playoff-eligible have been to Victory Lane this year. Of the four drivers in position to qualify for the post-season on the basis of where they rank in the standings — Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick — only Reddick, the driver sitting squarely on the bubble, is in any real danger of not making the cut.
The Richard Childress Racing driver and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion does hold a somewhat comfortable 96-point lead, however, over his closest pursuer — Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher. So, unless a driver outside the top 16 scores a surprising win in the next five races, Reddick falters badly or Buescher goes on a major tear, Reddick is well-positioned to hang onto the final spot and advance to the playoffs in what is just his second season in NASCAR’s top division.
Reddick, who has placed no worse than 11th in his last four starts, finished sixth on Sunday at Atlanta and feels encouraged about the overall direction of his team and the organization owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Childress. “Just another step in the right direction for our team,” the California native said. “I know we can make the playoffs; we just have to continue to push.”