Clint Bowyer has earned back-to-back second place finishes in his last two races, but he still doesn’t have a win this season.
Bowyer is currently 10th in the standings, and he would be in the playoff field if the postseason started today. Barely.
The season is more than halfway through, and 10 drivers have already secured a berth in the 16-driver field. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Austin Dillon are all locked into the playoff field.
That leaves six spots for the playoffs, and the drivers without a win will have to hope they have enough points to make it into the field. Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott are comfortably in the field as of now, but that can change rapidly if they have a bad stretch.
Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Bowyer and Matt Kenseth would barely make the cut.
Bowyer told USA Today that his two second place finishes gave his team confidence for the remainder of the season.
“Look at the last two weeks, we’ve been second, runner up. Second sucks, but it’s better than third,” Bowyer said. “We finished second two weeks in a row, so that’s a huge confidence booster for our team, but nonetheless, the pressure cooker is turning up.”
Joey Logano has a win this season, but his victory at Richmond was an encumbered win due to his team being penalized so it doesn’t count towards the postseason.
Bowyer and the rest of the drivers in the top 10 have a little breathing room for the last two months of the season, but there isn’t too much margin for error. A bad stretch of races could leave them on the outside looking in, and if a driver outside of the top 10 wins their first race of the year, that will take up another playoff spot.
Winless drivers will have their next opportunity Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
(h/t USA Today)