CONCORD, N.C. – With just two races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season, playoff positioning is more in focus than ever.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are secure in their spots, both having won this season and ranking seventh and 10th, respectively, in the point standings.
William Byron is currently in position to make the playoffs for the first time in his career, and he has an opportunity to clinch his spot this weekend at Darlington.
The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is currently 12th in the point standings, 75 points ahead of the cut-off line.
The magic number for the 21-year-old is 56. In order to lock in a playoff spot, he will need to leave Darlington 56 points ahead of the 16th-place driver.
Based on his current position, that means that if there is a repeat winner – or Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones or Ryan Newman capture the checkered flag – Byron would secure his spot by earning 38 points in the race.
If there is a new winner outside of the drivers listed above, Byron would need to come away with 50 points at Darlington in order to clinch ahead of the final race of the regular season.
Of course, a win by Byron would also guarantee a berth in the playoffs in just his second Cup Series season.
The same is the case for Jimmie Johnson. A Southern 500 win would put the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the playoffs.
Johnson is currently 18th in the point standings, 26 points below the cut-off line.
Outside of a trip to Victory Lane on Sunday, he can still earn his way into the 16-driver playoff field on points, but he cannot officially clinch on points at Darlington. He would head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the regular-season finale with an opportunity to race his way into the championship hunt.
This Sunday’s race at Darlington is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.