Chris Buescher secured his playoff spot this past weekend with a win at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona Beach, Florida, on the Daytona International Speedway track.
Alongside his RFK Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, they secured the top-two finishing positions in Saturday’s race.
The Daytona race this past weekend marked the final race before the playoffs begins. The high-speed, asphalt, tri-oval track consisted of 160 laps, with four turns, and a total of 400 miles. Stages 1 and 2 are made up of 50 laps, and the final stage is the remaining 60.
Daytona was the drivers last chance to secure a spot in the playoffs if they had not already. The No. 17 Ford Mustang for RFK Racing crossed the checkered line first, securing that last playoff slot of the season.
No. 9 Hendrick Motorsport driver Chase Elliot did not make the playoffs this season. Despite his double-digit, top 10 finishes, seven top-five wins, and one stage win, he broke his seven-year streak of making the playoffs.
Drivers Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, rookie Ty Gibbs, AJ Allmendinger, and Chase Briscoe were amongst Elliot of drivers who did not make the cut for playoffs.
Stage 2 in the race, Ryan Preece, driver for Stewart-Haas Racing, severely crashed his No. 41 Ford Mustang.
Preece’s car barrel rolled 10 times, and fire sparked on the left side of the car. While drafting on the outside lane, Preece made contact with the No. 43 car of Erik Jones, who nudged the rear bumper of Preece’s Ford Mustangs. After the collision, Preece swerved left into his fellow Stewart-Haas racer, Briscoe, who was driving the No. 14 Ford Mustang.
Both Haas drivers steered off track, once the drivers hit the grass, Preece’s car started to lift into the air, gaining momentum for the violent crash.
Preece managed to escape his car on his own, and was taken to the hospital to check for injury.
A 12-car crash took place on lap 95 of Stage 2 of Saturday’s race. At the front of the grid, driver Ryan Blaney viciously slammed into the side of the wall after rookie driver Gibbs spiraled into the side of his No. 12 Ford Mustang.
Gibbs was initially hit behind by driver Christopher Bell in the No. 20 Toyota Camry. This crash resulted in the disqualification of racer Gibbs in the Daytona 400 and ended his hopes of clinching a playoff spot.
“All drivers involved in this incident were evaluated and released from the Infield Care Center,” Nascar stated on its Instagram.
No. 4 William Byron is currently first in the drivers standings, with 2036 points, five wins, and eight stage wins, he is the leader going into playoffs.
No. 2 Martin Truex Jr. is second going into the upcoming playoffs with three wins, six stage wins, and 2036 points, tying with the Hendrick Motorsports driver, Bryon.
Joe Gibbs racer Denny Hamlin occupies the third place position. No. 11 Hamlin has won two races this season, five stage wins, and currently holds 2025 points.
Bubba Wallace snagged the 16th final spot and is advancing to the playoffs, alongside his teammate Tyler Reddick in the 10th place spot.
Next weekend is the first weekend of the 2023 NASCAR playoff season. It’ll be held in Darlington, South Carolina. The Cook Out Southern 500 on the Darlington Raceway Track.
Drivers will try to win the races and gain as many points as possible in these next upcoming races to avoid elimination and to move on to round two.