The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is off to a great start! In three races, we’ve had three different winners, two of which were first time winners.
The season has seen a superspeedway race (Daytona 500), a road course race (Daytona’s road course), and a mile-and-a-half speedway (Homestead-Miami Speedway). Each track has its challenges and it’s been fun to watch as a race fan.
When looking at the season so far from a news reporter state of mind, there have been many storylines. One team struggling financially to even run the entire season wins the Daytona 500, and the winnings from that race will secure their entries for the remainder of the season.
Or there’s the driver who was making his second start with a new team (38th career Cup Series start in total) winning the second race of the season. How about a NASCAR driver getting his second career Cup Series win while looking like a veteran?
But there’s another storyline that is building quite the buzz.
NASCAR started using the “win and you’re in” playoff format in 2014. The playoffs allow for 16 drivers to participate and race for a championship. The regular season consists of 26 races.
So the storyline that people are starting to look at is this, are we going to have more drivers eligible for the playoffs then there are available spots? Three races, three winners, from all levels of experience.
So what happens if there are more than 16 winners in the regular season? How does NASCAR handle this situation?
Ever since 2014, when NASCAR started using this new playoff system, there has never been more than 16 winners in a regular season. NASCAR did have a plan in place since day one for this possibility, though.
If more than 16 drivers win in the regular season, they turn to wins. Who has more wins during the regular season? After re-sorting the drivers based on wins, if any drivers have the same number of wins, they turn to points.
Are we going to get to more than 16 regular season winners? Maybe, probably not through. It might be too early to tell since we’re only three races in, but it is certainly something to think about since the playing field seems to be more level this year than in recent years.