Motorsport News

The Playoff Picture Is Officially Wild

#6: Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, Solomon Plumbing Ford Mustang

1. It’s Impossible to Even Make Sense of the Playoff Cutline Right Now

When May first arrived, the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season looked like a pretty drama-free affair.

Parity was dead, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing were running roughshod over the competition and Ford was sporting a goose egg.

Just a few weeks later, that script is on the verge of being torn up, or at the very least, in need of extensive reshoots. Brad Keselowski got Ford off the schneid at Darlington, but something even more interesting happened when Ryan Blaney‘s unexpectedly empty gas tank handed the World Wide Technology Raceway win to Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric.

Cindric became the second Cup Series competitor this year (Daniel Suarez was the first) to win despite being outside the top 16 in points. History in the playoff era suggests they’ll likely stay that way, meaning that for now, eight drivers are in the playoff field on points, with Chase Briscoe just four points in the clear over Joey Logano.

Alas, for now is doing a lot of heavy lifting in the previous sentence, because NASCAR still hasn’t given Kyle Larson the playoff waiver we all assume is coming. That means that it’s really Chris Buescher who is in the last spot, 10 points ahead of Briscoe.

Unless, of course, NASCAR is really so upset about Larson shunning the Coca-Cola 600 for the Indianapolis 500 that there’s no waiver coming, in which case we should all stock up on popcorn and watch everything melt down.

That uncertainty is fascinating in its own right, even if it ends up being cleared up soon. But the wins from drivers outside the top 16 are going to make the cutline dance intriguing no matter what happens, and if someone else joins that group this season (Noah Gragson? Michael McDowell?), the relative monotony of the first few months of 2024 Cup Series racing are going to seem like a distant memory.

2. Brad Keselowski, Hottest Driver in the Cup Series Garage

To be clear, we’re not talking about subjective attractiveness or physical temperature but results. While Ford was floundering around to start the season, Keselowski at least showed some spark with three top-10 results in his first seven starts (as well as three finishes of exactly 33rd, but hey).

He and the No. 6 RFK Racing team have absolutely found another gear since then. Beginning with a second-place effort at Texas Motor Speedway, Keselowski has finished in the top three five times…

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