Unless the next four races produce more than two first-time 2022 winners, the 14 drivers who’ve gone to Victory Lane this season have nothing to worry about – they’re a lock for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Similarly, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. – the two drivers in position to make the playoffs based on points – all are but assured of making the playoffs if no new faces emerge in Victory Lane over the final four regular season races. That’s because the gap they have in the points over Kevin Harvick – the first driver on the outside looking in – is so substantial that it would be almost impossible for Harvick to make up that much ground.
Blaney and Truex aren’t out of the woods, though. In fact, both drivers actually have ample reason to sweat. That’s because one or both of them could fall to the wrong side of the playoff cutline if a new face or two rolls into Victory Lane over the final four regular season races, which include Sunday’s event at Michigan. To simplify things and sleep a bit better at night, Blaney and Truex just need to win. Both have failed to go to Victory Lane in a points-paying race this season. But if they can’t win, they won’t be able to rest easy until the checkered flag waves on the regular season finale at Daytona. In the meantime, look for those behind them in the standings and still searching for a win to go for broke over the next four weeks. Because unlike Truex and Blaney, these drivers literally have nothing to lose.