The payoffs begin at Darlington

Ryan Blaney on a two-lap restart and won at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night and captured his third win in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season.  This was the final race of the regular season.  The series begins the 10-race playoffs on Sunday at Darlington Raceway in the Cook Out Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET.

There were several drivers battling to the end for the final spots for the championship playoffs.  Despite being a late crash, Tyler Reddick finished 16th and captured the final playoff spot, and his teammate Austin Dillon did not make the playoffs.

“It feels incredible to be in the NASCAR Playoffs. My emotions were shot as soon as we took the green on the last green-white-checkered. I can’t even believe that we finished sixth.” Reddick said.

The Daytona winner feels great finishing the regular season out strong and could be one of the drivers to watch in the early rounds.

“I think it’s been nice to finish out the regular season strong, especially with two wins back-to-back right before the start of the playoffs and get a lot of playoff points and be seeded second.” Blaney said, “It really does help you out, but really the focus is the same, just trying to do our job the best we can, trying to perform just like we’ve been performing the past couple months here and you just try to keep that up.  It’s definitely a better position to be in on our side than where we have been in years past and you just hope to utilize it.”

The driver of the No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang, Kevin Harvick was a driver in the spotlight heading into the 2021 season and one of the top drivers to bet on to battle for the 2021 Cup championship.  But the 2021 season has not been one of his best seasons for Harvick compared to last season and you can compare the odds if you bet on sports with casumo and see for yourself that 2021 has not been his best season.  Last weekend at Daytona, Harvick started 11th and finished 15th and holds the final spot in the series playoff points with 2,002.  This will be Harvick’s 12th consecutive playoff appearance and his 15th overall.

Kyle Larson dominated a lot of the regular season captured more than any driver with 52, and holds a 28-point lead on second place.  Larson, the 29-year-old driver of the No. 5 Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports, captured his first-career NCS Regular Season Championship title on Saturday night at Daytona.

“Our team has worked so hard all of the regular season,” said Larson. “I couldn’t do it without Mr. Hendrick and Linda and all of their support. Everybody back at the shop, too. This is a long season and we still have 10 races to go. It’s a long point to get here and it’s just a big hats off to everybody at the shop., Valvoline, Tarlton and Son, everybody who’s been on board to help us out this year.”

The field is now set for the championship contenders.  The playoffs are led by Kyle Larson (2,052 points), followed by Ryan Blaney (2,024), Martin Truex Jr. (2,024), Kyle Busch (2,022), Chase Elliott (2,021), Alex Bowman (2,015), Denny Hamlin (2,015), William Byron (2,014), Joey Logano (2,013), Brad Keselowski (2,008), Kurt Busch (2,008), Christopher Bell (2,005), Michael McDowell (2,005), Aric Almirola (2,005), Tyler Reddick, 2,003, and Kevin Harvick (2,002).

2020 series champion Chase Elliott, driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Camaro ZL1 1LE does not feel the pressure heading into Darlington.

“I don’t really feel any different than I did going in last year. I mean, it’s nice to have seen some of those circumstances and to have gone through some of those things that you’re faced with mentally, just some of those challenges, as you step through that last round and get to Phoenix.” Elliott said.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are three rounds of playoffs with 3 races per round with four drivers eliminated following each round of three.  The beginning field of 16 drivers will be narrowed down to four for the finale race at Phoenix, where points will no longer matter and the highest finisher among the four drivers wins the championship.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoff schedule:

Round 1: 16 drivers with four drivers eliminated after Bristol
Sept. 5 – Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Sept. 11 – Richmond Raceway, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Sept. 18 – Bristol Motor Speedway, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Elimination Race)

Round 2: 12 drivers with four drivers eliminated after Charlotte
Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway, 2 p.m. ET, NBC
Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, 2 p.m. ET, NBC (Elimination Race)

Round 3: 8 drivers with four drivers eliminated after Martinsville

Oct. 17 – Texas Motor Speedway, 2 p.m. ET, NBC
Oct. 24 – Kansas Speedway, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Oct. 31 – Martinsville Speedway, 2 p.m. ET, NBC (Elimination Race)

Championship race: 4 drivers fighting for the title
Nov. 7 – Phoenix Raceway, 3 p.m. ET, NBC

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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