Phoenix Motor Speedway beckons for the stars of NASCAR’s Cup Series.
We’re but four races away from the glitziest of stock car racing’s events, the Cup Series championship. And as the playoff field shrinks, the gleam of that silvery hardware grows all the more alluring.
NASCAR’s finest embraced the chaos in the Round of 12, wading through the mire on a short track (Texas), a superspeedway (Talladega) and a road course (Charlotte Roval). It left a trail of contenders in its wake, some of whom have grasped Cup Series glory, others who hope to embrace it in the coming few years.
MORE: Watch the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs live with Fubo (free trial)
With that, here’s what you need to know about the Cup Series playoffs as the field slims from 12 drivers down to eight.
NASCAR playoff field 2023
|1. William Byron||4,041|
|2. Martin Truex Jr.||4,036|
|3. Denny Hamlin||4,032|
|4. Kyle Larson||4,024|
|5. Chris Buescher||4,021|
|6. Christopher Bell||4,016|
|7. Tyler Reddick||4,016|
|8. Ryan Blaney||4,014|
Which drivers were eliminated from the Cup Series playoffs?
As a former Cup Series champion nearing the latter portions of his career, it would’ve been easy for Keselowski — co-owner of his team, RFK Racing — to take a step back. He missed out on the postseason in 2022 after falling winless for the first time since 2010 and looked a shell of himself in RFK’s tech.
However, 2023 was a return to form for Keselowski. Although he failed to pick up a win, he was a fixture in the top five at different points in the year, all the while partnering with fellow RFK driver Chris Buescher to form a formidable tandem atop the standings.
Keselowski was good, not great, during the Round of 12. A P32 finish at Talladega dropped him beneath the cut line. And despite huffing and puffing at different points at the Roval, Keselowski was unable to cut into Martin Truex Jr.’s points advantage.
After finishing runner-up to champion Joey Logano in 2022, Chastain looked poised for a big year in 2023. He showed impressive speed at times, even nabbing the checkered flag at Nashville with a blazing run.
But as the year wore on, he just couldn’t keep up. He impressed at Texas, picking up a second-place finish after Bubba Wallace faltered on the final race restart.
But a subpar showing at Talladega (37th, DNF) made an appearance in the Round of 8 a challenge. Chastain did snag a top-ten placing at the Roval. But he was unable to overcome the gap, finishing just short of the playoff quarterfinals.
Wallace was a wild card, shockingly making it out of the Round of 16 with steady showings. His performances during the Round of 12 were similarly consistent, and could have been more had he put together a better restart at Texas.
Wallace’s third-place finish at Texas was solid. But he missed an opportunity to capture that all-important victory, surrendering front-row positioning to William Byron in the race’s final laps.
A superspeedway star, Wallace seemed a good bet for success at Talladega. But tire issues condemned him to a P27 finish, leaving him with a mountain to climb on the road.
Wallace looked a composed figure while maneuvering around the bends at Charlotte, earning stage points in each of the opening two stages. But an unforeseen collision with Austin Cindric relegated him to the back of the pack. And despite pulling things together for a P15 finish, it just wasn’t enough to surpass Truex.
Busch’s first season at Richard Childress was filled with glitter; the longtime Joe Gibbs Racing star vanquished his opposition on three separate occasions, looking like a Cup title contender for much of the campaign.
But things slowed down in the postseason. Busch struggled at Texas and Talladega, placing him firmly at the bottom of the standings heading to Charlotte.
A win was the only thing that could get him in. He fought like hell to secure it, even taking the lead deep in the race.
But he couldn’t hold off A.J. Allmendinger or William Byron. A third-place finish is a good consolation prize. But it wasn’t enough to carry him to the next round of the postseason.