Is Chase Elliott in the playoffs? Why NASCAR’s most popular driver is a longshot for 2023 cutoff

The 2023 season has been one to forget for Chase Elliott.

NASCAR’s most popular driver finds himself in unfamiliar territory heading into the final week of the Cup Series regular season, needing a win to prolong his season beyond this weekend.

LIVE: NASCAR returns to Daytona as Bubba Wallace, Chase Elliott look to clinch final playoff spot

Elliott sits in 21st place in the playoff standings, 101 points back of Bubba Wallace. The deficit is too great for Elliott to claim a postseason spot by way of points; he needs a win at Daytona to get in.

The No. 9 car has suffered through a great many pitfalls this year, most of which were self-inflicted. Now, he’s got a tough task ahead of him: slip through the mire and capture his first-career Cup Series win at the hollowed ground.

MORE: How Bubba Wallace, other drivers can qualify for final NASCAR playoff spot

That’s easier said than done.

Is Chase Elliott in the playoffs?

Currently, Elliott sits on the outside looking in of playoff contention. The Hendrick Motorsports star and 2020 Cup Series champion sees himself far behind his 2022 pace, netting just 489 regular-season points in 18 races thus far.

Given the distance between himself and Wallace, Elliott has but one path to the postseason: a win.

The odds aren’t quite in Elliott’s favor as things stand. The Hendrick Motorsports star has been fighting an uphill battle since he returned from the left tibia fracture he suffered while snowboarding in March. In all, Elliott missed six races while on the mend.

He eventually found his form, posting a third-place finish at Darlington. But just when things seemed to be clicking, Elliott was handed a one-race ban after being found to have deliberately wrecked Denny Hamlin at Charlotte.

The suspension put a swift stop to any momentum Elliott had been building. And although he quickly responded with a trio of top-five finishes in consecutive weeks, the No. 9 car couldn’t quite trickle his way onto victory lane.

NASCAR playoff standings

Below is a current look at the top 16 drivers in the Cup Series playoff standings, based on regular-season points. 

Rank Driver Points Points over cut line
1 Martin Truex Jr.* 861 +0
2 Denny Hamlin* 822 +0
3 William Byron* 785 +0
4 Christopher Bell* 752 +0
5 Kyle Larson* 721 +0
6 Brad Keselowski** 697 +139
7 Chris Buescher* 695 +0
8 Ross Chastain* 695 +0
9 Ryan Blaney* 694 +0
10 Kevin Harvick** 693 +135
11 Kyle Busch* 688 +0
12 Tyler Reddick* 683 +0
13 Joey Logano* 666 +0
14 Bubba Wallace 590 +32
15 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 566 +0
17 Michael McDowell* 553 +0

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