The Field of 16: Projecting the Cup Series Playoffs entering Kansas

Editor’s Note: Racing Insights’ playoff projections use a combination of current standings and historical performance at upcoming tracks to determine the probability of each driver winning or making the playoffs on points.

With the Cup Series Playoffs on the mind throughout the season, what if there was a way to project how the 16-driver field could look before each race weekend?

It now exists via Racing Insights. From now until the start of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, ‘The Field of 16’ will give fans a weekly look at where their favorite drivers could potentially land in the postseason field — and the likelihood of having a shot at the Bill France Cup.

Here’s this week’s update on the projections heading into Kansas Speedway.

Kansas playoff projections
Kansas playoff projections


With multiple wins in 2024 already, William Byron and Denny Hamlin are safely into the Cup playoffs with 100% probability. Hamlin matched Byron with his third win of the season last weekend at Dover and moved up to the fourth in the Cup standings, now 49 points back of Kyle Larson for the points lead. Byron was involved in a late-race wreck with Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace at Dover and swapped points position with Hamlin as the No. 24 driver sits sixth.


Another top-three finish for Larson last weekend gives him three finishes of such over the last five races. He sits 15 points over Martin Truex Jr. for the Cup points lead. Each Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports vehicle is expected to be strong this weekend so it is imperative for the No. 5 team to post another strong result at Kansas to hold serve in front of the rest of the field.

Chase Elliott and Tyler Reddick continue to land strong finishes and are among the favorites to secure the checkered flag Sunday.

Christopher Bell and Daniel Suárez have been trending downward since their respective victories earlier this season. Bell has just two top-10 finishes since his Phoenix win while Suárez only has one top-10 run outside of his rousing Atlanta win. Both drivers are outside of the top 16 in points but are provisionally in the playoffs due to their race wins.


It’s getting really interesting the closer we get to the playoff bubble. Before Dover, Brad Keselowski was well into the projected postseason picture but has dipped into one of the last four drivers in after a dismal showing at Dover where he spun twice and finished 30th. The 2012 champion’s probability tanked 16 points after Delaware and that’s due to those below him slowly creeping up the standings.

Ty Gibbs, Wallace and Kyle Busch all jumped Keselowski in the field but have seen significant dips in their probability of entering Kansas outside of Busch, whose top-five result at Dover saw an eight-point rise compared to pre-Dover. Chris Buescher also dipped 12 points in his probability after a so-so showing last Sunday.


Alex Bowman only saw a one-point dip leaving Dover, thanks to another top-10 result that brings him to a 13.6 average finish after 11 starts. It’s trending a career-high mark for him but the No. 48 team needs more with the strength of the current bubble.

Be on the lookout for Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe and Noah Gragson. The two have shown significant improvements in performance for both the No. 10 and No. 14 Fords. Briscoe has himself 12th in the Cup standings while Gragson is recovering nicely up into 21st after a significant points penalty post-Atlanta.


Of those in the projected field, I’d have to say Bubba Wallace. 23XI Racing has won three of the four Next Gen races at the 1.5-mile facility with the other being won by team co-owner Hamlin.

MORE: Racing Insights predicts Kansas | 2024 Cup Series schedule

My long-shot pick is Noah Gragson. There’s serious momentum within the No. 10 camp that one late restart with the team in the right position could steal a victory Sunday and really throw the Cup Series Playoff picture for a loop.

Before each race weekend, check back into The Field of 16 to see the latest projections of the 2024 Cup Series playoff field.