One race – Saturday’s (Aug. 28) Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway – and one spot remains for a driver to make the 2021, 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Talk about intense pressure!
Entering the summer classic, NASCAR’s regular season finale, 15 drivers have secured their position in NASCAR’s Playoffs, but on the outside looking in, are another 15 drivers, who, with a win, can automatically punch their ticket towards a championship run in NASCAR’s premier series. Four of those 15 competitors trying to nudge their way into the mix are former Daytona Champions.
The man currently in the hot seat in 16th is Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick. His teammate, 2018 DAYTONA 500 Champion Austin Dillon, sits 17th, 25 points behind Reddick. Both still have the opportunity to get in via points, IF one of the other 13 non-winning ’21 drivers doesn’t go to Ruoff Victory Lane in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, set for a green flag start at 7 p.m. ET.
How determined will Austin Dillon be to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400? “Very,” said the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet, who was in contention to win at Michigan International Speedway Sunday before a mid-race accident with Brad Keselowski.
Meanwhile, the battle the regular season points championship is still on-going with five-time winner Kyle Larson and three-time DAYTONA 500 Champion Denny Hamlin, who is still winless in 2021 and trails Larson by 28 points.
“We’ll just try to get every point that we can and go for the win. We’ll do everything we can,” said Hamlin of this weekend’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona’s 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Here are the Playoff scenarios entering the Coke Zero Sugar 400:
The 15 drivers who have clinched a spot in the 16-driver postseason field: Larson, Hamlin (points), Kyle Busch, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick (points), Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola.
Can Clinch Via Points
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 4th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Hamlin or Harvick.
- Reddick: Will clinch with 31 points
- Dillon: Can only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Reddick, Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ross Chastain, Darrell Wallace Jr., Chase Briscoe, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece, Cole Custer, Anthony Alfredo, Corey LaJoie. Dillon, Stenhouse, Jr., Joes and Newman are former Champions at Daytona.
Can Clinch Regular Season Championship
Additionally, the Regular Season Championship could be clinched by the following drivers:
- Larson: Will clinch with 32 points
- Hamlin: Can only clinch with help
Fans can purchase tickets starting at $49 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Those fans can also purchase access to the UNOH Fanzone for $60. Here, fans can participate in events before the race. This includes, but is not limited to, the return of the traditional Coke Zero Sugar 400 Pre-Race Concert featuring Chris Lane, pre-race ceremonies, driver introductions, access to the large grass ballfield, signing the start/finish line through the middle of the 18-degree, banked trioval. Also scheduled is LIVE entertainment on the main UNOH Fanzone Stage, including Fan Q&A, which includes (scheduled) Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Bubba Wallace, Danie Suarez and two-time DAYTONA winning crew chief Drew Blickensderfer. Fans can also get photos with the winning trophies of the weekend in Ruoff Mortgage Victory Lane.
Tickets to Friday’s (Aug. 27) Xfinity Series Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, which is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET green flag start, begins at $35 for adults and FREE for kids 12 and under. Access to the UNOH Fanzone will be available before this race as well! A Two-Day Pass is available which includes access to the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, and the Wawa 250 on Friday. These passes start at $69 for adults. Fan Q&A is also scheduled for Friday and will include Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Haley, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier.
For ticket information, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway and see the latest speedway news on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.