The 16 Drivers Who Qualified for the 2021 Cup Series Playoffs

NASCAR is entering the second season of its 2021 Cup Series. The 16 drivers who have qualified for the playoffs are now set and will start competing on Sunday at the Cookout Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. One driver to watch for is Ryan Blaney who has won the last two races and won pole for Sunday’s race. 

“I obviously like to keep improving, you know?” Blaney said to Athlon Sports earlier in the year. “We didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs, so that kind of put a damper on it, but I think there are other ways you can improve. Just kind of growing, getting a little more acclimated to the sport. It’s already been over five years, but I always want to keep improving. I’d like to have more wins, but just learning more, approaching angles a little bit differently.” The 16 drivers will compete in three races before the field drops to 12 on Sept. 26. It will then drop to eight on Oct. 14 before it’s down to the final four on Nov. 7. Here’s a look at the 16 drivers who made the Cup Series Playoffs. 

1. Kyle Larson

(Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images)

Kyle Larson has been the best driver all season, winning five races and finishing second in four other races. This comes after he was suspended for the majority of the 2020 season due to him saying a slur during an e-racing event.

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2. Ryan Blaney

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(Photo: Icon Sportswire / Contributor)

As mentioned earlier, Ryan Blaney won the last two races and won three this season. He looks to take another step in his progression as he finished ninth in the standings last year.

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3. Martin Truex Jr.

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(Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. has already accomplished a lot in his career, winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title as well 30 races in his Cup Series career. This year, Truex won three races and looks poised to win his second Cup Series Championship.

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4. Kyle Busch

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(Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images)

Kyle Busch is no stranger to winning the Cup Series Championship, claiming the title in 2015 and 2019. The 36-year-old previously went on a stretch where finished worse than third in four consecutive races.

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5. Chase Elliott

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(Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images)

Chase Elliott is the defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion and has a strong chance to win it again. In the last four races, Elliott has finished in the top 10. One one of the biggest things that helped Elliott last year is he won three of the last five races to become champion.

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6. Alex Bowman

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(Photo: Sean Gardner / Gettty Images)

Alex Bowman finished sixth in the Cup Series standings last year and is ready to take his skills to the next level. The 28-year-old is coming off a top 10 finish in Daytona and has won three races this year. Bowman also won pole for the Daytona 500 this year and in 2018.

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Rest of the Field

7. Denny Hamlin

8. William Byron

9. Joey Logano

10. Brad Keselowski

11. Kurt Busch

12. Christopher Bell

13. Michael McDowell

14. Aric Almirola

15. Tyler Reddick

16. Kevin Harvick

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