CONCORD, N.C. – After a thrilling race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series is away from the track this weekend.
Following the off week, just two races remain until the playoffs begin – Sept. 2 at Darlington Raceway and Sept. 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Currently, three Hendrick Motorsports teammates are in position to make the 16-driver playoff field. And all three are coming off top-10 finishes at Bristol.
Chase Elliott is locked into the postseason thanks to his Watkins Glen win. He currently ranks sixth in the playoff standings with eight playoff points earned via three stage wins and a race win.
While disappointed he narrowly missed out on more playoff points last weekend with a second-place Stage 2 result and a third-place race finish, the driver is in a stretch of five consecutive top-10 finishes as the No. 9 team powers into the playoffs.
“I had a car that I felt like could contend with those guys, and we had it riding,” Elliott said of his Bristol effort. “We got it right there at the end.”
Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman have yet to officially clinch their playoff spots, but both are positioned to make the field.
Johnson is 15th in the playoff standings, 111 points ahead of the 17th-place competitor, which would be the first not to make the field.
“Just a solid night,” he said after finishing ninth at Bristol. “We will take it. Of course, we want more, but it was nice to have a good, consistent run all night long.”
Bowman is next in 16th with a 79-point cushion ahead of the cutoff line. He’s coming off an eighth-place effort at Bristol as he looks to secure his spot.
“Not to lose points and just to have a good, solid day is always good,” the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 said. “I don’t even know who finished in front of us, (but) it looks like we beat all the people we need to beat, so keep making headway.”
William Byron is currently 21st in the playoff standings, 130 points behind Bowman in 16th.