NASCAR Cup Series playoff scenarios heading to Daytona

One race remains to fill one spot in the 16-driver Cup Series playoff field and it will come on one of NASCAR’s most unpredictable tracks.

NASCAR Cup Series playoff scenarios heading to Daytona
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Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway will determine the final member of the 2021 playoff field and decide whether Kyle Larson or Denny Hamlin will win the regular season championship and the important 15 playoff points that come with it.

Fifteen drivers are already locked in the playoffs by having won at least one race so far this season or because they have accumulated so many points they can’t fall out of the top-16.

They are: Larson, Hamlin, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell and Aric Almirola.

Here are the different scenarios the final playoff berth and the regular season champion could be determined in Saturday night’s race:

Final playoff berth

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the fourth winless driver in the series standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if the new winner were to be Hamlin or Harvick.

· Tyler Reddick: Would clinch with 31 points.

· Austin Dillon: Could only clinch with help.

Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Dow Salutes Veterans

Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Dow Salutes Veterans

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Win and you're in

The following drivers would clinch by simply winning Saturday’s race: Reddick, Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece, Cole Custer, Anthony Alfredo and Corey LaJoie.

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry DoorDash, Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Planters

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry DoorDash, Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Planters

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Regular season championship

Only Larson or Hamlin can win the 2021 regular season championship. Larson currently leads Hamlin by 28 points.

· Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 32 points.

· Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Cincinnati

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Cincinnati

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

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