Tyler Reddick’s win this past weekend at Road America had quite the ripple effect on the battle near the NASCAR Cup Series playoff bubble. With 13 different race winners in 2022, only three spots are now open for drivers who haven’t won a race this year to make the playoffs. Those three positions are currently held by Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell.
While Blaney and Truex – thanks to their healthy points cushions – are pretty safe bets for making the playoffs as long as no more than one other winless driver finds his way to Victory Lane over the eight races that remain before the 16-driver playoff field is locked in, Bell is in a far more precarious spot. Not only would a win by any other non-2022 winner besides Blaney or Truex knock Bell out of the playoffs, but the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has to sweat even if the only drivers to win over the next eight weeks are repeat winners. That’s because his points cushion back to Kevin Harvick – the first driver on the outside of the playoffs looking in – is just 20 points. Harvick has more than enough time to make up the deficit, which he could even erase in one race. Also still within striking distance of Bell is Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola, who is 47 points in arrears of the playoff cutline.
“I’m in a really scary position because (Blaney and Truex) are quite a ways out,” Bell said. “And then that cutoff line is getting closer and closer with each new winner.”