MOORESVILLE, N.C. — When Tyler Reddick won his first NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday afternoon at Road America, he became the 13th winner in 18 races this season.
The victory made it increasingly possible that for the first time since NASCAR’s playoffs expanded to 16 spots, a driver with a victory could foreseeably miss the playoffs.
Generally, every driver with a victory has gotten in with the remainder of the spots filled by the top-ranking drivers in regular-season points.
However, with 13 drivers locked in and eight regular-season races remaining it is conceivable that every position could be filled by a driver who wins a race or even more surprising — a winner could be left out.
The list of drivers who have not won a race through 18 events, is impressive. It includes Ryan Blaney, who won three times last year, and ranks second in points this season, but has not won a race.
A trio of Cup Series champions — Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski are winless this season.
Truex is currently in on points, while Harvick is outside looking in despite ranking 11th in the standings. At this point, Keselowski’s only chance is to win a race.
Christopher Bell is eighth in the standings but has yet to win this season. Aric Almirola, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon are also winless on the year and shown the speed to get to victory lane.
• Chevrolet has won 10 of the first 18 Cup Series races, while Toyota and Ford have each won four races.
• Both Trackhouse Racing cars finished in the top five at Road America. Ross Chastain was fourth and Daniel Suarez finished fifth. The team has 13 combined top-five finishes this year.
• Michael McDowell is 21st in points, but he achieved his career-best seventh top-10 finish with an eighth-place run at Road America in the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford.
“It was a solid effort but not what we hoped for,” McDowell said. “We seemed to lose the rear tires a bit too much as the run went on and as we tried to dial rear grip into it we just lost a little bit of turn and then it kind of compounded.
“We didn’t quite have the speed we needed to run up in the top-five and challenge and kind of slid back a little bit. All in all, it was a solid day and we executed well. It is nice to be disappointed with an eighth-place finish, but our expectations have gone up and we want to challenge for wins.”
• Reddick’s victory was the ninth consecutive for Chevrolet on a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series. The streak started at Circuit of The Americas in May, 2021.
Reddick is also the 11th different driver to win a Cup Series race for RCR.
• The series heads to reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend. William Byron claimed the victory at the 1.54-mile track in March.
• It was a week of close calls but no victories for Kyle Larson. He finished second in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America and third on Sunday at the historic four-mile road course.
Earlier in the week, Larson collected a pair of second-place finishes in Pennsylvania Speedweek sprint car competition.