Even though Christopher Bell won the NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, he hasn’t officially earned a spot in the playoffs.
Christopher Bell didn’t clinch
Christopher Bell, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, won the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. This was his second win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Bell hasn’t won a race since February 2021, when he won on the road course at Daytona International Speedway. The driver of the #20_Toyota had not won in 53 races before Sunday.
The 27-year-old from Norman, Oklahoma, did not officially secure a spot in the playoffs with that win, though.
Bell is the 14th driver to win a race in the first 20 races of the 26-race regular season. No matter the winners, there are only 16 spots in the playoffs.
So, the idea that you just have to win to get into the playoffs isn’t technically correct, and this season could very well confirm it.
The 16 spots in the playoffs are given to the regular season winner and the 15 drivers with the most wins. With 26 races in the regular season, there can be no more than 13 drivers who win more than one race. This means that drivers who win twice are already in. Drivers who win once are not, though.
If there are more than 16 different top performers, points are used to break ties among single-race winners to decide who will be in the postseason field.
This is pretty much the same idea that is used when there are only 16 winners. In that case, the non-winner’s points will also be used to decide who gets the last two spots in the postseason field.
But despite this technicality, which could keep a winner from making the playoffs this year, Bell is in a good spot with six races left in the playoffs.
Bell is in eighth place in the point overall rankings, which puts him ahead of six of the other eight winners (five different drivers have won at least twice and are locked in).
So, he should be pretty safe if more than 16 people win races during the regular season.
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