Daytona to Host a Nail-Biting Regular Season Finale Before the NASCAR Playoffs

Published 08/25/2020, 6:47 AM EDT


One final regular-season race remains before the 10-race season finisher kicks off. The entire 16-driver postseason field will be set after Saturday’s season finale. The final race will be the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway.

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Three drivers secured a seat in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs after Sunday’s Drydene 311 at  Dover. Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet were able to clinch a spot for the 2020 playoffs.

That leaves three season-finisher spots to be chosen in Saturday’s 400-mile race at Daytona. Jimmie Johnson is four points outside the season finisher line with William Byron holding the last spot. Matt DiBenedetto, on the other hand, is only nine points in front of the cut line.

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Johnson’s penultimate season in NASCAR has not been ideal. In fact, his year outside of the track has not been particularly positive either as he tested positive for the COVID-19 bug which led to his absence in the Brickyard 400. He came back to racing the following week after two negative tests.

“It’s still Daytona, and in my opinion, the ‘big one’ or all the wrecks that can happen is really going to determine who makes it into the playoffs,” Johnson said reports Motorsports.

“I’ve kind of felt like (Daytona) is going to be the pivotal race for us to make the playoffs or not. Especially since I missed the Brickyard 400,” Johnson said.

“Maybe someday down the road I’ll look back and think of these last trips to tracks and moments, but I’m just wired a certain way. I think all competitors are.”

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Daytona – The decider

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Everything can change in a matter of seconds with Saturday night’s race at the Daytona International Speedway.

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Hamlin won Saturday’s race at Dover, while Harvick mounted a strong challenge on Sunday to win the second race of the doubleheader weekend. Additionally, Kevin Harvick secured the regular-season title and the 15 season finisher points on Sunday at Dover.

The playoffs start with the Sept. 6 Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway.

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Abhay Aggarwal

421 articles

Abhay Aggarwal is sports analyst at EssentiallySports. Having joined ES in early 2020, he has over 300 NASCAR, Formula 1, and Tennis articles to his name. Abhay has been an avid motorsports fan for over a decade, and he even attended the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

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