A solitary playoff berth remains up for grabs in the NASCAR Cup Series, introducing an element of suspense and excitement.
The concluding opportunity for drivers to secure this coveted spot presents itself in a single, highly unpredictable race.
Scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway will determine the final contender. The event can be witnessed on NBC or heard on MRN or Sirius XM NASCAR.
With fifteen drivers already locked in, ready to commence the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Darlington the following weekend, the spotlight shifts to Bubba Wallace.
Following his impressive rally from road course difficulties to secure a top-12 finish at Watkins Glen in the past week, Wallace currently commands a 32-point advantage over newcomer Ty Gibbs for the crucial 16th and last playoff position.
While a victory at the superspeedway isn’t an absolute necessity for Wallace to claim the spot, any new victor would displace the No. 23 car from the playoffs. Noteworthy is that a total of 17 drivers, roughly constituting half of the field in Saturday’s Daytona race, are fiercely contending for this final coveted playoff-opening.
The playoff picture comes into focus, as Wallace presently holds sufficient points to clinch a spot in the postseason. Close contenders Ty Gibbs and Daniel Suarez trail within a 50-point range.
Yet, the landscape remains open for 14 additional drivers, a roster that includes 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott and the previous year’s Daytona 500 victor Austin Cindric.
These drivers retain the potential to secure a coveted playoff berth through a triumphant first-place finish in the upcoming Saturday race. Notably, Wallace, who ranks among NASCAR’s adept superspeedway drivers, merely requires 24 more points to ensure his inaugural entry into the playoffs.
Furthermore, within the realm of competition, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin are engaged in a fierce contest for the regular-season championship.
This accolade bestows the winner of regular-season points with a substantial bounty of 15 bonus points, equating to the impact of three triumphant race victories, all bolstering their cumulative playoff tally.
While William Byron boasts the highest count of victories this season with an impressive five, his performance encountered fluctuations during the summer period. As a result, this inconsistency has led the driver from Hendrick Motorsports to slip beneath the cumulative point totals of both Truex and Hamlin.
This season is one NASCAR team’s last
The current season marks the final chapter for a particular NASCAR team. GMS Racing, a team that has clinched the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship twice, revealed on Wednesday its decision to conclude operations after the culmination of this season.
Originally named Gallagher Motorsports, GMS Racing emerged from the vision of entrepreneur Maury Gallagher in 2012. Last year, Gallagher acquired a predominant stake in Richard Petty Motorsports, giving rise to the collaborative endeavor “Petty GMS,” which commenced its joint participation alongside the Truck Series teams in 2022.
In a statement, Gallagher acknowledged, “Their steadfast dedication and unwavering contributions have propelled us to secure two Truck championships, three ARCA championships, and an impressive tally of 68 victories.” Looking ahead, the team’s focus is set on concluding the present year on a high note, culminating their era with the pursuit of another notable victory in the Truck Series championship.
This year, GMS Racing has been represented in the Truck Series by Grant Enfinger, Daniel Dye, and Rajah Caruth. Among them, Enfinger stands out with two triumphs, securing victories in both Kansas and St. Louis. He remains the sole driver from the team set to compete in the upcoming playoffs.
Notably, GMS Racing has established itself as the most successful Chevrolet entity in the series, boasting an impressive record of wins.
Maury Gallagher, who has a significant stake in GMS Racing, is also a co-owner of Legacy Motor Club, the Cup team previously associated with Petty GMS. In a collaboration with seven-time Cup champion and impending NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jimmie Johnson, Gallagher co-owns Legacy Motor Club.
An announcement made in May by Legacy Motor Club revealed their intention to transition from Chevrolet to Toyota as their manufacturer alignment, effective after the conclusion of this season.
When does the NASCAR race at Daytona start?
The commencement time for the NASCAR race at Daytona is as follows:
Race: Coke Zero Sugar 400
Distance: 400 miles (160 laps)
Stages: Stage 1 concludes on Lap 35, Stage 2 ends on Lap 95, and Stage 3 ends on Lap 160
Location: Daytona International Speedway
Date and Time: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Television: NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports App
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR