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June 14, 2024

The Field of 16: Projecting the Cup Series Playoffs entering Iowa


Logano and Buescher drive at Phoenix
Chris Graythen
Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Racing Insights’ playoff projections use a combination of current standings and historical performance at upcoming tracks to determine the probability of each driver winning or making the playoffs on points.

With the Cup Series Playoffs on the mind throughout the season, what if there was a way to project how the 16-driver field could look before each race weekend?

It now exists via Racing Insights. From now until the start of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, “The Field of 16” will give fans a weekly look at where their favorite drivers could potentially land in the postseason field — and the likelihood of having a shot at the Bill France Cup.

Here’s this week’s update on the projections heading into Iowa Speedway.

NOTABLE PROBABILITY SHIFTS POST-SONOMA

DriverBefore LoudonEntering NashvilleDifference
Chris Buescher67.32%85.72%+18.40
Ty Gibbs85.47%90.08%+4.61
Bubba Wallace29.21%22.11%-7.10
Alex Bowman86.37%70.11%-16.26
Iowa Playoff Predictor
PROBABILITY CALCULATED BY RACING INSIGHTS AHEAD OF IOWA CORN 350, JUNE 16, 2024

DRIVERS SOLIDLY IN PLAYOFF PICTURE

Nine drivers are provisionally locked into the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs, with four of those guaranteed as Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Christopher Bell have all won multiple times this season.

Larson jumped back to the top of the table after his third win of the year at Sonoma despite missing the Coca-Cola 600.

Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Austin Cindric and Daniel Suárez each have a win in 2024. With four new winners already this year compared to 2023, it’s best to have a good points cushion to the provisional elimination line as Martin Truex Jr. and Ross Chastain have as they sit with 95% or better probabilities of making the 16-driver field. While Ty Gibbs’ hot start in his sophomore campaign still sees him likely to make the playoffs, he’ll need to find a consistent top-10 streak soon, with just three in the last 10 races.

LAST 4 IN

The tension continues to build for those without a win yet and near the playoff bubble. Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman and Joey Logano remain in the top 16, while Chris Buescher rejoined the right side of the provisional playoff elimination line after a stage win and a third-place result Sunday in Sonoma.

Buescher saw the biggest shift in his playoff probability as it increased by 28 points compared to pre-Sonoma.

Blaney’s probability also went up double digits after finishing seventh at Sonoma.

FIRST 4 OUT

Kyle Busch continues to fade in his probability, but more surprising is Bubba Wallace’s points getting cut by more than half after having a. near-80% probability before Gateway. Now, it’s at 35% and for good reason as the No. 23 driver doesn’t have many favorable tracks outside of Nashville at the end of June before the Michigan/Daytona back-to-back in August.

Busch nearly had a much-needed top-five finish at Sonoma, but that was dashed on the final lap as the No. 8 RCR Chevrolet was spun by Chastain in Turn 4 at the road course. The two-time Cup champion was eventually scored with a 12th-place result.

WHO CAN SHAKE UP PLAYOFF PICTURE AT IOWA?

A new Cup venue? Look no further than Logano, who has a knack for beating everyone to the punch when the series debuts at a track. The No. 22 Team Penske driver won the first Next Gen event with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum, won the first event when Cup ran dirt at Bristol for three seasons and was the first champion of the Next Gen era. If there’s a chance to be opportunistic, you know Logano and crew chief Paul Wolfe will be the first to pounce.

MORE: Racing Insights predicts Iowa | 2024 Cup Series schedule

Before each race weekend, check back into The Field of 16 to see the latest projections of the 2024 Cup Series playoff field.

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