Here's what we want to know: How good does a driver have to be to qualify for NASCAR's playoffs even if they don't win a race?
After Kurt Busch's win Sunday at Richmond International Raceway, nine races this year have already been completed. That's one-third of the way to the cutoff point for when the "Chase" starts—NASCAR's version of the playoffs. In these first nine races, we've seen seven different winners.
As we discussed earlier this month, only 16 drivers will qualify for the Chase. The simplest method of qualifying is by winning a race during the season. Based on my math projecting the most likely race outcomes, we should see 13 drivers qualify for the Chase by getting a win. That would match the number from last season. In the past decade, there has been an average of three winless drivers per year who made the Chase, according to an analysis by Andrew Maness of PitRho, a racing software and analytics firm.