A look at the winners and losers coming out of Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway…
Ryan Blaney – Back-to-back wins at Michigan and Daytona cap a strong finish to the regular season. Blaney has posted top-two finishes in each of the last three races. Additionally, he’s posted five top-five finishes in the last six races and seven finishes of sixth or better in the last nine races.
Tyler Reddick – Overcame damage from a crash with 15 laps left in the scheduled distance, then avoided two more pileups to finish fifth and make the Cup playoffs. Reddick beat out Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon for the 16th and final playoff spot after finishing ahead of Dillon in each of the final nine regular season races.
Kyle Larson – Clinched the regular season championship and 15 playoff points despite being collected in the overtime crash that ended the race (he finished 20th). Larson’s red-hot summer enabled him to catch Denny Hamlin and ultimately beat him for the top spot by 18 points.
Justin Haley – Future Cup full-timer showed his knack for superspeedway racing again Saturday. He won the afternoon’s Xfinity Series race for Kaulig Racing, then finished sixth under the lights in the Cup race for Spire Motorsports.
BJ McLeod – Finished ninth to notch the first top 10 of his NASCAR national series career (275 starts across Cup, Xfinity and Truck). It was also the first top 10 in Cup competition for Live Fast Motorsports, the team he co-owns with Matt Tifft.
Josh Bilicki – Finished 10th to earn his first Cup top 10 in his 61st career start.
Austin Dillon – Needing to win to make the playoffs, Dillon took the white flag in fourth but was swallowed up by the pack and then wiped out in the aforementioned overtime crash. Bad luck bit Dillon and the No. 3 team at the worst possible time with three consecutive DNFs to end the regular season and their playoff hopes.
Chris Buescher – After his decision to choose the outside line entering the overtime restart backfired, Buescher narrowly avoided the last-lap crash to finish second – but still one spot shy of the win he needed to make the playoffs. Twisting the knife further, NASCAR later disqualified Buescher after a track bar assembly violation was found on his car during post-race inspection.
Daniel Suarez and Corey LaJoie – A potential victory and spot in the playoffs was in sight on the final lap for both Suarez and LaJoie. But an ill-timed bump from Kurt Busch sent Suarez into Kevin Harvick, and LaJoie, like many others, had nowhere to go in the ensuing melee.