NASCAR’s cutoff race took place on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, which determines the drivers that progress into the next round of the championship. It was one hell of a wild race that saw William Byron take the win and lock himself into the playoffs. Kevin Harvick was crowned the regular series champion.
If you’re still a little shaky on the whole “playoffs” concept, you’re not alone. NASCAR introduced the playoffs a few years ago as a way to spice up the championship hunt. So, no, the driver who wins the most races in a season or racks up the most points will not necessarily be the champion at the end of the season.
If you win during the “regular season”—or, any race that takes place before the playoffs—you’re guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. If you don’t win but rack up a lot of points, you can also qualify for the playoffs.
The playoffs last 10 races and are broken up into four different segments. The first three segments are three races long, while the fourth segment is the final championship-deciding race. The first segment contains 16 drivers, the second 12, the third round eight drivers, and, in the final round, four drivers compete for the final championship.
If you need a longer guide, then never fear; we have one for you:
Oh, superspeedways! The final race of the regular season was filled with contact, hard-fought battles, and late race crashes that wiped out a significant portion of the field.
The big, accident-deciding event, however, took place with just five laps to go after a different accident red flagged the race to clean up debris. That final accident took out 11 drivers, including Joey Logano, who had won the first two stages of the race, and Jimmie Johnson, who thus lost his chance to make it into the playoffs on points, just barely pipped by Matt DiBenedetto.
1. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
2. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
3. Brad Keselowski, Team Penske
4. Joey Logano, Team Penske
5. Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports
6. Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing
7. Ryan Blaney, Team Penske
8. Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports
9. William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports
10. Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing
11. Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing
12. Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing
13. Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing
14. Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
15. Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing
16. Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing