NASCAR: These Drivers Are Now Facing Tough Uphill Battle in Cup Series Playoffs After Darlington Race

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 16 drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs have has a lot of time to dominate and master the track before getting down to the final segment. To be exact, they had the chance to compete in 19 states, 26 different races, and 14 drove away as winners.

Despite all that, the playoffs always get a little more chaotic as drivers try to not let the pressure get to them. The playoff season kicked off with the Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway this past Labor Day weekend.

Issues for Drivers at First NASCAR Playoff Race

It was a night of a lot of trouble for the 16 drivers. For Kevin Harvick, the trouble on the track was no surprise at all. He finished fifth at Darlington.

“That really shouldn’t surprise anybody. I mean, we’ve done this for a long time, so if anybody is surprised, they’re very, very new, and Darlington, in general, is just one of those places that creates chaos in itself. There are a lot of places that you can make a mistake, and it’s the first race of the playoffs, and everybody always loses their mind in the first race of the playoffs. It happens every year. If it’s not the first race, it’ll be one of the first three, or four, five in six, or seven, eight, and nine. At some point, they all lose their mind,” Harvick said, according to USA Today.

Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, William Byron, and Michael McDowell are all on the bubble and face upcoming elimination if they don’t perform well.

Harvick finished behind other top NASCAR racers, which, in order, were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex Jr.

In terms of trouble, there’s plenty to talk about. Alex Bowman hit the wall during lap 15. This damaged his car and forcing him to fall toward the back of the pack. Michael McDowell crashed during lap 31 and ended up in dead last. Chase Elliott damaged his left front fender and later on, completely missed his pit stop on lap 158.

In addition, Kyle Busch crashed during lap 125 and finished 35th. That’s just a small summary of what went down over in Darlington, but it was clearly a wild night of racing. Technically, there were four playoff drivers that didn’t finish the race. This includes Michael McDowell, Kyle Busch, William Byron, and Chase Elliott.

Next Race in Playoffs

There’s still a lot more to come in the NASCAR playoffs, however. The next race in the playoffs is on September 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at the Richmond Raceway.

As of now, Denny Hamlin leads with 2,072 points and has the only win so far in the playoffs. Kyle Larson follows close behind with 2,106 and Martin Truex Jr. has 2,062 points. The first round of eliminations will take place on September 18 after the Bristol Motor Speedway race. Four drivers will be taken out of the top 16.