There are just four NASCAR Cup Series races until the Playoffs begin. While NASCAR is in the midst of a two-week Olympics break, it’s a good time to really analyze the drivers on or near the cut line as we head into the final push before the Playoffs. After New Hampshire’s unexpected win by Aric Almirola, who entered the weekend 27th in points, it’s Corning, California’s Tyler Reddick, who is seeking his first NASCAR Cup Series Playoff appearance, that is on the cut line.
Reddick sits five points to the good over his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon for the final Playoff spot.
Here are the cutoff standings after New Hampshire:
Thanks to Aric Almirola's win at Loudon, the race for the Playoffs is getting tighter!
One RCR Camaro is in, one is out.
— TobyChristie.com (@TobyChristieCom) July 21, 2021
As you can see, with Buescher and DiBenedetto more than 120 points back of Reddick, it’s looking more and more like a battle between RCR teammates for the final Playoff spot.
While Reddick is in danger if we see another oddball winner (Daytona is the final race before the playoffs), the 25-year old driver and his No. 8 team have reason to feel confident if the final place in the 2021 Playoffs is decided by points.
While his advantage, currently, is a measly five points, Reddick has utilized an ultra-consistent track record to catapult from 28th in the championship standings after Bristol — the sixth race of the season — to now being scored as the 12th-place man in the point standings after New Hampshire.
In that 16-race stretch between Bristol and New Hampshire, Reddick has not finished outside the top-20 once, and he has scored 10 of his 11 top-10 finishes this year in that span. Incredibly, Reddick’s average finish over the last 16 races is a solid 10.688.
In that same 16-race stretch, Dillon, who started the season off on a decent pace, has begun to fade.
While Dillon’s average finish is a decent 13.125, that ranks nearly three positions further back than his teammate per race. Dillon also has two races outside the top-20 in that stretch (both 21st-place finishes) and just four top-10 finishes compared to Reddick’s 10. The momentum is definitely on Reddick’s side.
In fact, Reddick actually leapfrogged Dillon in the standings this past weekend following the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
But Reddick is not perfect as he showed at New Hampshire in scraping the wall and making a pit road error. Still, Reddick brought home the No. 8 car in 13th spot, four spots ahead of Dillon. After climbing from the car, Reddick didn’t sugar coat his faults on the day, but he remained focused on the task at hand — making the Playoffs.
“We barely adjusted on the handling during the race which is a sign of a really fast race car,” Reddick said. “We had to overcome a few different things – overshooting the pit stall and scrubbing the wall – but even though that cost us track position, I steadily worked my way back up inside the top-10.
“There were a few different strategies in play at the end when we were racing against the darkness. I hate we didn’t get to run the full distance, because I think we could have finished better than 13th. As we get closer to the playoff cutoff though, we will need to have a clean race and get a win to secure our spot. I know our team can do it and we will keep battling.”
Barring a last minute, Hail Mary last minute, out of nowhere win from the drivers behind Reddick in the standings, it appears the final four races will be a shootout between Richard Childress Racing teammates for the final playoff spot.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.