Back to News

July 21, 2023

Bubble Watch: Where drivers closest to the elimination line stand before Pocono

McDowell and Suárez drive at Chicago
Jared C. Tilton
Getty Images

The push to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is in full swing. Just six races remain until the 16-driver grid is set to determine who will compete for the Bill France Trophy.

Entering Pocono Raceway on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App), 11 drivers have locked themselves into the postseason with a victory, leaving five spots still up for grabs. A handful of big names still have yet to solidify their playoff position and before cars hit the “Tricky Triangle” this weekend, see who currently sits just above the cut elimination line, just below and on the outside looking in with stats provided by Racing Insights.

RELATED: Cup standings | Racing Insights’ projected Pocono results



Points above: 2

Trending: Snapped Cold Streak

Pocono outlook – Warming Up: Wallace owns two consecutive top-10 finishes at the “Tricky Triangle” after eight-straight finishes of 14th or worse. His best finish at the track is fifth (2021) and he finished eighth last season.


Points above: 1

Trending: Hit or Miss

Pocono outlook – Mostly Cold: McDowell continues to have a steady season as he’s worked his way into the top 16 in points after finishing 13th or better in five of the last six races. However, that could come to a halt on Sunday as the Front Row Motorsports driver owns an average finish of just 26.3. But last season, McDowell brought home the No. 34 Ford in sixth.



Points below: 1

Trending: Mostly Cold

Pocono outlook – 2022 Snapped Cold Streak: Suárez scored a top-five finish last season after five-straight finishes of 13th or worse. His best run at the track was a second-place result in 2018.


Points below: 20

Trending: Hit or Miss

Pocono outlook – It’s Been A While: It’s difficult to get a gauge on how the ‘Dinger will perform Sunday as he hasn’t made a Cup start at Pocono since 2018. In his previous Cup starts at the track, he has six-straight finishes of 14th or worse.


Points below: 41

Trending: Cold

Pocono outlook – Cold Start: Gibbs’ Cup Series debut came at Pocono as he subbed in for Kurt Busch. While the finish probably wasn’t what Ty expects out of himself, it still caught the attention of the field as he kept the No. 45 Toyota clean and brought it home 16th.


Points below: 42

Trending: Cold

Pocono outlook – Mostly Warm: This track may top the list of where Bowman finally breaks through this season to secure his playoff spot. Once the overall points leader, the driver of the No. 48 has had an underwhelming run since returning from a back injury as he’s gone without a top-10 finish in his last 10 starts. But Pocono is one of Bowman’s best tracks as he’s scored three top 10s in his last four starts, including a win in 2021.



Points below: 46

Trending: Hit or Miss

Pocono outlook – Cold: Haley hasn’t done much in just two outings in the Cup Series at the “Tricky Triangle” with finishes of 27th and 21st. Look for the No. 31 team to be aggressive on pit strategy and go for some stage points to try to close the gap.

MORE: Haley to join Rick Ware Racing in 2024


Points below: 51

Trending: Cold

Pocono outlook – Cold Start: After making the playoffs in his rookie campaign, Cindric’s sophomore outing has been in a lull with just three top-10 finishes. The No. 2 Team Penske driver finished 31st at Pocono last season.


Points below: 60

Trending: OK Recently

Pocono outlook – Hit or Miss: Elliott is the defending winner at the track after both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were disqualified. However, Elliott hasn’t led a lap in his last six starts at Pocono and has logged mixed results in those starts with three finishes of 25th or worse.


Points below: 91

Trending: Cold

Pocono outlook – Cold: LaJoie hasn’t finished better than 19th in 10 career starts at Pocono and currently owns two consecutive results outside the top 30.


Points below: 96

Trending: Cold

Pocono outlook – Cold: There’s not much to go off for Gilliland entering this weekend at Pocono as he has just one start at the track where he finished 25th last season. However, the second-year Cup driver has improved his average finish by almost three positions compared to last year.