Erik Jones won the Bojangles’ Southern 500 to punch his ticket into the NASCAR Playoffs, while Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Aric Almirola joined the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in the postseason via points.
All told, it was an eventful night in Darlington, South Carolina, where rain delayed the start of the 500-miler to 10 p.m. ET. Racing ended just before 2 a.m.
Those five drivers join the nine winners we’ve seen so far this season already in the field — Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman.
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That means two playoff spots in the 16-driver field are up for grabs in next week’s regular-season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Currently, Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez own the final two provisional spots. Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson are just below the cutoff line.
Suarez and Newman technically are tied for the final position, but the driver of the No. 41 Ford owns the tiebreaker.
This is the fourth consecutive year in which Larson has advanced to the postseason, the third for Blaney and second for both Jones and Almirola.
William Byron, 21, qualified for the Monster Energy Series Playoffs for the first time in his second season at NASCAR’s top level, and first with Chad Knaus atop the pit box.