Kurt Busch’s playoffs spot and the problems of the NASCAR playoffs system
Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sameena Khan
In the most recent race in Michigan International Speedway, for the third race in a row, Kurt Busch has not participated due to head-related injuries. While Busch does have a waiver that protects his playoff spot, he still might lose it. But why? This particular matter also revealed a massive flaw in the Playoff system; how is it affecting the competition? Let’s see.
After the race in Michigan, where Kevin Harvick has ended his 65 winless drought, 15 drivers won a race and are guaranteed a playoff spot. However, with three races left, should there be more than 16 race winners, Busch could be out of the NASCAR playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
Multi-race winners such as William Byron, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Chase Elliot, and Tyler Reddick will go ahead first. For the single race winners, they will have to fight for either more wins or regular season points to get into the playoffs
According to the official standings on NASCAR’s website, Busch is the lowest regular-season point scorer among all of the race winners, with only 485 points, sitting at 20th place. Hypothetically, if any two of the following drivers who have more points than Busch: Martin Truex Jr, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola, or Bubba Wallace, win a race in one of the three subsequent races, and the standings in regular season points remain the same, Busch will be out of the Playoffs.
It would be safe to say that this particular incident has caused unrest within the sport's fanbase. Truex Jr and Blaney have been far superior performers compared to Busch, yet they haven’t been guaranteed a playoff spot due to not winning a race, thus revealing a vast flaw within the system.
Rewarding single-race performers while ignoring consistent performers is the problem. Blaney and Truex Jr have scored more than 700 points up until Michigan, with both sitting in second and fourth of regular season standings, respectively. However, there is a chance that one of them will be right outside of a playoff spot.
All three drivers are great. While it would be sad to see one of them look on from the outside, it is the inevitable consequence of a fantastic NASCAR cup series season.