DAYTONA BEACH, FL — In such an unpredictable season, it’s a waste to think we know what will happen at tonight’s Cup regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
The only thing you need to know about tonight’s race (7pm ET on NBC and Peacock) is how 13 drivers who can move to a playoff spot with a win can change a season in one night. I mean I remembered.
All they have to do is watch Jeremy Clements win the rain-delayed Xfinity race, which ended in the third overtime at 1:28 a.m. ET on Saturday. Xfinity was just a triumph. The first came five years ago on a date in Road America. Still, he’ll be in his Xfinity playoffs.
MORE: Saturday’s cup race details
Daytona has already given hope to each driver in the field, but Clements has more faith in how close some drivers might be to the playoffs.
Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. hold the final two playoff spots.
Of the 13 drivers with a potential playoff spot, seven won the Cup race at Daytona: Eric Jones, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Justin Haley, Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski. I’m here.
Of the six remaining playoff-qualified drivers who have not won at Daytona, Bubba Wallace has finished second three times, including the final two races, and Chris Buescher’s best finish is third. Cole Custer, Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon and Todd Gilliland are other players who could advance to the playoffs with a win.
Of course, there are 14 other drivers to win this year, including regular season champion Chase Elliott and this year’s Daytona 500 winner Austin Sindrick.
Sindrick’s victory marked the sixth consecutive Superspeedway win for a Cup driver and the first series win of his career.
But this season has also seen some unusual developments on and off the track.
Who would have guessed where Kyle Busch, the only active driver to win multiple Cup titles in 2023, would race in August?
Or, in a season where wheels come off from time to time, Eric Jones lost a few laps at Kansas because the crew couldn’t remove the wheel during a pit stop in Kansas.
Or a season with five first-time winners, all before former Cup champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Truex.
Or, at the Indianapolis road course, Chris Buescher’s car caught fire early in the race, and he stayed in the car until the fire was out, then continued to finish in the top ten.
Or Cody Ware, who has to avoid flying tents on an Indianapolis road course.
I don’t like tents https://t.co/4d2yowf8jc
— CodyWare (@CodyShaneWare) August 1, 2022
Or Blaney lowered the window net thinking he had won and struggled to raise the net so he thought he might lose but finished off the field and not in the All-Star race he won again. for a $1 million prize.
Or the game Denny Hamlin was playing against Ross Chastain at Gateway after Chastain broke him.
So yes, go ahead and guess what happens. But in reality, no one knows what will happen.
Local programming will cover Saturday’s Cup Series races on WBAL 11.2 MeTV in Baltimore, WKCF in Orlando, KTVK in Phoenix and WMOR in Tampa. Check out our local listings in Lancaster/Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Viewers in all markets can live stream the race on Peacock, NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app.