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Meet the drivers who will race for the title


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Welcome to another edition of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Sixteen drivers have earned the right to compete for the championship that will be decided on Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway.

The playoffs consist of 10 races, with the first nine broken into three legs, each with three races apiece. Four drivers will be eliminated after the third, sixth and ninth races, leaving a final four to race for the title in Avondale, Arizona.

The 16-driver field includes six former champions (Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.) and two first-time playoff contenders (Matt DiBenedetto and rookie Cole Custer). 

Each of the three manufacturers are represented, with eight Ford drivers, five Chevrolet drivers and three Toyota drivers.

PREDICTIONS: Who will win the 2020 NASCAR Cup championship?

Let’s meet the 16 drivers in the playoffs:

1. Kevin Harvick

Born: Dec. 8, 1975, in Bakersfield, California

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing. Car: No. 4 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,057

Championship: 2014

Career Cup wins: 56 (tied for ninth all time)

2020 stats: 7 wins, 17 top-fives, 21 top-10s

Notable: Harvick has finished in the top three of the final standings in nine of the past 11 years.

What he’s saying: “I think as you look at that it’s very difficult to get yourself to the last race of the season and be one of those four cars and trying to be able to race for, let alone win, a championship. It’s very difficult to put yourself in that position and once you get there be able to put everything together against the other three guys on one particular day.”

HARVICK: Some 500-mile Cup races should be shortened

2. Denny Hamlin

Born: Nov. 18, 1980, in Tampa, Florida

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Car: No. 11 Toyota.

Points entering playoffs: 2,047

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 43 (ranked 19th all time)

2020 stats: 6 wins, 15 top-fives, 17 top-10s

Notable: Hamlin was the series runner-up in 2010 and finished in the top four three other times (2006, 2014, 2019).

What he’s saying: “I just know that we’re performing at tracks that haven’t necessarily and statistically been strong suits for us. Each and every week we’re contending for the race win. I don’t know why that is, but it’s just happening.”

3. Brad Keselowski

Born: Feb. 12, 1984, in Rochester Hills, Michigan 

Team: Team Penske. Car: No. 2 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,029

Championship: 2012

Career Cup wins: 33

2020 stats: 3 wins, 9 top-fives, 19 top-10s

Notable: Keselowski agreed to a contract extension in August to stay with Team Penske at least through the 2021 season.

What he’s saying: “First off, I don’t like to suck, so that’s one thing that drives me. If you’re gonna do something, do it well, and winning races and going for a championship, in my opinion, is doing something well.”

4. Joey Logano

Born: May 24, 1990, in Middletown, Connecticut

Team: Team Penske. Car: No. 22 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,022

Championship: 2018

Career Cup wins: 25

2020 stats: 2 wins, 6 top-fives, 14 top-10s

Notable: Logano has advanced to the championship race four times since the current playoff format was introduced in 2014.

What he’s saying: “This year is just reminding me of 2018, which is a great season for me, where we had some growing pains and some things we had to learn throughout the regular season. And we slowly built the speed back up for the playoffs and the next thing you know, we won two of the most important races, and we win the championship.”

5. Chase Elliott

Born: Nov. 28, 1995, in Dawsonville, Georgia

Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Car: No. 9 Chevrolet.

Points entering playoffs: 2,020

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 8

2020 stats: 2 wins, 10 top-fives, 15 top-10s

Notable: Four of Elliott’s eight career wins have come on road (or hybrid road) courses, including the 2019 playoff race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval.

What he’s saying: “I’m encouraged by the fact that when I feel like we have things going, we can compete for wins at a lot of different style race tracks, which is awesome.”

6. Martin Truex Jr.

Born: June 29, 1980, in Mayetta, New Jersey

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Car: No. 19 Toyota.

Points entering playoffs: 2,014

Championship: 2017

Career Cup wins: 27

2020 stats: 1 win, 11 top-fives, 17 top-10s

Notable: Truex has advanced to the championship race four of the past six years.

What he’s saying: “Winning a race, getting lucky and winning a race here or there to get in the Playoffs, doesn’t give you a great feeling that you can go win a championship. Running top-three, top-four every week, gives you a great feeling that you can go win a championship.”

7. Ryan Blaney

Born: Dec. 31, 1993, in Hartford Township, Ohio

Team: Team Penske. Car: No. 12 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,013

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 4

2020 stats: 1 win, 8 top-fives, 11 top-10s

Notable: Should Blaney advance out of the first round, he can look forward to racing in Round 2 at Talladega, where he has scored back-to-back wins (2020 spring race, 2019 playoff race).

What he’s saying: “Everyone is gonna be strong in the playoffs, so you really have to be on top of your game, but I like our momentum. … It’s gonna be important for us to win in the rounds.  That’s what it’s gonna take for us, I feel like, to advance or have really, really good point days, but I feel really good about this team.”

8. Alex Bowman

Born: April 25, 1993, in Tucson, Arizona

Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Car: No. 88 Chevrolet.

Points entering playoffs: 2,009

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 2

2020 stats: 1 win, 3 top-fives, 8 top-10s

Notable: Seven of Bowman’s 13 career top-fives have come at playoff tracks, including a runner-up finish at Darlington in May 2020.

What he’s saying: “I think each and every week during the Playoffs we’re going to be really good, but Darlington is one that we had circled that we can be really strong at, for sure.”

9. William Byron

Born: Nov. 29, 1997, in Charlotte, North Carolina 

Team: Hendrick Motorsports. Car: No. 24 Chevrolet.

Points entering playoffs: 2,007

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 1

2020 stats: 1 win, 2 top-fives, 9 top-10s

Notable: Byron scored his first career win last weekend in the regular-season finale at Daytona to lock himself into the playoffs.

What he’s saying: “Obviously, our goal going into this year was to make it further than we did last year in the playoffs, which was the Round of 12 last year. So, if we can make it to the Round of 8 this year, it would be a success, for sure.”

10. Austin Dillon

Born: April 27, 1990, in Welcome, North Carolina

Team: Richard Childress Racing. Car: No. 3 Chevrolet.

Points entering playoffs: 2,005

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 3

2020 stats: 1 win, 2 top-fives, 7 top-10s

Notable: Dillon has made the playoffs in four of the past five years.

What he’s saying: “I know from that experience at every Point matters, and we just need to go out there and do our job these first three races. … You got to get points. So we’re going to be very aggressive in getting those points and hopefully mess up a lot of brackets.”

11. Cole Custer

Born: January 23, 1998, in Ladera Ranch, California

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing. Car: No. 41 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,005

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 1

2020 stats: 1 win, 2 top-fives, 6 top-10s

Notable: Custer, perhaps the top contender for Rookie of the Year, won his first career Cup race in just his 20th start — and 17th of the season — July 12 at Kentucky.

What he’s saying: “I think we’ve shown we can compete with everyone when we do everything right, and that includes me. I think we can move through the rounds and have a good playoff run.”

12. Aric Almirola

Born: March 14, 1984, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing. Car: No. 10 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,005

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 2

2020 stats: 0 wins, 5 top-fives, 14 top-10s

Notable: Almirola’s five top-fives this season are a career high and his 14 top-10s are in second most in nine full-time seasons.

What he’s saying: “I am excited about the playoffs.  I do feel like we have a lot of potential.  We’ve run really well.  We’ve made some mistakes along the way that we certainly have to clean up going into the playoffs to be a contender, but I do feel like our speed and the way that we’ve been running, the capability is certainly there.”

13. Clint Bowyer

Born: May 30, 1979, in Emporia, Kansas

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing. Car: No. 14 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,004

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: 10

2020 stats: 0 wins, 2 top-five, 7 top-10s

Notable: Bowyer was the series runner-up in 2012 and finished third in the final standings in 2007.

What he’s saying: “Hell yeah, you feel pressure. Yeah. I’m gonna postpone that pressure until I get in that damn car (Sunday) night. I’m just gonna wait for then.”

14. Kyle Busch

Born: May 2, 1985, in Las Vegas

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing. Car: No. 18 Toyota.

Points entering playoffs: 2,003

Championship: 2015, 2019

Career Cup wins: 56 (tied for ninth all time)

2020 stats: 0 wins, 11 top-five finishes, 13 top-10s

Notable: Busch has advanced to the championship race every years since 2015. He has won at least won playoff race every year in that span except 2016.

What he’s saying: “This year has just not lent itself to our favor so far, but the playoffs start now, and we’re still in this thing. We’ve got an opportunity to go out here — obviously being on the bottom side of the spectrum rather than the top side of the spectrum during the playoffs so it’s going to be a different playoff for us that what we’re used to.”

BUSCH BROTHERS: Hunting wins at NASCAR playoffs set to kick off

15. Kurt Busch

Born: Aug. 4, 1978, in Las Vegas

Team: Chip Ganassi Racing. Car: No. 1 Chevrolet.

Points entering playoffs: 2,001

Championship: 2004

Career Cup wins: 31

2020 stats: 0 wins, 4 top-fives, 14 top-10s

Notable: Busch was the first driver to win a championship in the playoff era, although the format was much different in 2004. He has made the playoffs under five team owners (Jack Roush, Roger Penske, Barney Visser, Gene Haas/Tony Stewart and Chip Ganassi).

What he’s saying: “We want to advance through all the rounds to give ourselves a shot at the championship. So, consistency has been good for us this year. We just need to continue to do that and execute as a team to get through each of these rounds.”

16. Matt DiBenedetto

Born: July 27, 1991, in Grass Valley, California

Team: Wood Brothers. Car: No. 21 Ford.

Points entering playoffs: 2,000

Championship: None

Career Cup wins: None

2020 stats: 0 wins, 2 top-fives, 7 top-10s

Notable: DiBenedetto advanced to the playoffs for the first time in his six-year Cup career and his first with Wood Brothers.

What he’s saying: “My focus is on how to make the most of our race car and the most of that day and not get too caught up in guys pulling away or how to get to them but focusing on yourself, your car and your team. Make the most of it. Maximize your day. Hopefully that puts you in position to have a shot at winning at the end of the race.

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Adrian Woody
Adrian Woody Author
Contributor At Industry News Blog

Having the apt skills to play with words to put forth various updates and news relating to the field of technology in an interesting way has made Adrian is a contributor in our organization. He is dedicated to writing articles related to all the up-to-the-minute inventions, launches, updates, and much more happening in the world of technology. In his free time, Adrian offers a guest lecture to kids about the latest inventions.

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