Clutch in the playoffs: Drivers who won in critical situations
By Staff Report | Sunday, November 18, 2018
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images
1 of 16
Since NASCAR instituted the elimination-style playoff format in 2014, we've seen several drivers elevate their abilities with everything on the line including five wins for a championship. The most recent? Joey Logano, who won the 2018 title. Scroll through to see the most clutch wins in NASCAR history.
Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images
2 of 16
Since NASCAR instituted the elimination-style playoff format in 2014, we've seen several drivers elevate their abilities with everything on the line. With the Round of 8 finale at Phoenix looming, those below the cutline need a victory to advance to the Round of 8. Here are some of the most clutch performances since the format debuted. Luckily for Kevin Harvick, who needs a strong showing Sunday, he has plenty of clutch wins to his credit.
Brian Lawdermilk | Contributor | Getty Images
3 of 16
Brad Keselowski: Talladega, 2014Keselowski's playoff chances weren't looking good following back-to-back finishes outside the top 15 in the Round of 12, but he grabbed the lead from Ryan Newman on the final lap and wheeled his No. 2 to Victory Lane.
Matt Sullivan | Getty Images
4 of 16
Kevin Harvick: Phoenix, 2014Harvick's Phoenix win secured him a spot in the Championship 4. His 264 laps led accounted for 84.6 percent of the race. He would go on to win the championship.
5 of 16
Kevin Harvick: Miami, 2014After winning the season finale, Harvick hoisted the championship trophy in Victory Lane -- completing a perfect first season with Stewart-Haas Racing.
6 of 16
Kevin Harvick: Dover, 2015Coming off finishes of 42nd and 21st in the first two races of the opening playoff round, the 2014 champion had to win in order to advance -- and that's just what he did. Harvick led 355 of 400 laps to advance to the Round of 12.
7 of 16
Jeff Gordon: Martinsville, 2015Gordon booked his ticket to the Championship 4 in his final full-time season after career win No. 93. It also was his first win of the season and provided one of the year's most memorable celebrations.
8 of 16
Kyle Busch: Miami, 2015Busch's storybook season concluded with a Miami win, earning him the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
9 of 16
Kevin Harvick: New Hampshire, 2016Again, Kevin Harvick found his advancement chances were in the danger zone. He turned it around, however, in week No. 2 and pulled off the win, automatically advancing him to the Round of 12.
10 of 16
Kevin Harvick: Kansas, 2016After a 38th-place finish at Charlotte and with the unknown of Talladega looming, Kansas served as the last chance for the 2014 champion to control his own fate, so to speak. Harvick got the win he needed and a Round of 8 spot.
11 of 16
Joey Logano: Talladega, 2016When an engine turned sour for teammate Brad Keselowski, Logano made sure it wasn't a lost day for the Penske camp. The defending race winner wasn't in a must-win position but a victory secured his spot in the Round of 8. It was a nice bounce-back from an earlier pit-road penalty when a jack was stuck under his car -- he made it all the way around the track without it dislodging -- and a 36th-place finish at Charlotte.
Sean Gardner | NASCAR via Getty Images
12 of 16
Carl Edwards: Texas, 2016A 36th-place finish at Martinsville left Edwards in close to a must-win situation for the final two races in the Round of 8. A clutch pit stop late got Edwards ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and put him in position to lead the final 36 laps in the rain-shortened race. The victory locked the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into the Championship 4.
13 of 16
Joey Logano: Phoenix, 2016In an incredibly tight Round of 8 finale, Logano held off Kevin Harvick as the final laps ticked off and then pounced late when Matt Kenseth wrecked on a restart. The crafty bit of late driving sent Logano to victory, and locked up his spot in the Championship 4.
Sean Gardner | NASCAR via Getty Images
14 of 16
Jimmie Johnson: Miami, 2016Johnson started from the rear and trailed fellow Championship 4 drivers throughout the race, but would show why he is one of NASCAR's greatest drivers with a clutch performance for the ages. Deftly dodging a late-race wreck, Johnson launched the most perfect restart of his career to lead the final three laps -- and ONLY the final three laps -- to win the race and claim his seventh championship.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
15 of 16
Martin Truex Jr.: Miami, 2017Truex Jr. started on the front row and had to battle with his Championship 4 contenders all day -- along with Kyle Larson, who led 145 laps -- and he held off Kyle Busch late to win his first title.
Robert Laberge | Getty Images
16 of 16
Joey Logano: Miami, 2018Logano came into the Championship 4 -- or as he called it the "Big 3 and me" -- as the perceived underdog. But Logano executed perhaps the best restart of his life, passing Martin Truex Jr. perfectly with 12 laps remaining and pulling away to win his first series championship.