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Playoff Watch: Who’s in and who’s out entering Talladega

Just one race remains before the start of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs, and it’s the biggest wildcard race of them all: Talladega Superspeedway. The top eight drivers in points following Talladega will advance to the four-race playoffs, concluding with a $100,000-to-win championship race. Three spots are still up for grabs among eight drivers remaining in mathematical contention. Let’s break down who’s still got a shot in the regular-season finale Tuesday.

Chris Shearburn, Letarte Esports

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Rank: 13, -40 points out

It’s going to take an extraordinary set of circumstances for Chris Shearburn to make the top eight from 40 points out in a single race, but anything can happen at Talladega. Despite an up-and-down regular season, he still scored the seventh-most top-five finishes (4) and led a portion of the season-opening race at Daytona. He’ll need to score his first-career victory Tuesday in order to advance.

Corey Vincent, Renegades

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Rank: 12, -37 points out

What looked like the comeback story of the year closed a chapter on Lap 96 at Las Vegas when Corey Vincent, poised for another solid finish, found himself with nowhere to go in the middle of the Big One, damaging his car and relegating him to a disappointing 24th-place finish. It’s still mathematically possible to keep the playoff dream alive, but he’ll need some help at ‘Dega.

Brad Davies, JR Motorsports

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Rank: 11, -32 points out

Veteran Brad Davies will need to work some magic at Talladega like he did when he won there in 2010, leading 85 of 90 laps. Issues in recent weeks have dropped Davies from holding a playoff spot to more than 30 points out.

Graham Bowlin, Joe Gibbs Racing

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Rank: 10, -31 points out

A solid run through the late spring and early summer quieted in recent weeks for rookie Graham Bowlin, but remaining in playoff contention this late in the regular season among the best in the business is nothing at which to hang one’s head.

Jimmy Mullis, Richmond Raceway Esports

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Rank: 9, -15 points out

It’s been a hot-and-cold season for Jimmy Mullis, who’s won two races and posted a runner-up finish, but also finished 20th or worse six times in 15 races. Still, momentum’s on his side following his big win at Las Vegas. We talked at length about teammate Zack Novak’s hit-and-miss season last year – and that ended up with Novak hoisting the championship trophy at the end of the season. It could happen again, but Mullis will need good luck on his side at Talladega.

Ray Alfalla, Team VRS

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Rank: 8, +15 points in

‘Four-Time’ scratched and clawed his way to a top-10 finish Tuesday at Las Vegas, snapping a three-race streak of sour finishes. With just a 14-point cushion, he can’t afford a mistake; it can go away in an instant, especially at Talladega.

Logan Clampitt, Burton-Kligerman Esports

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Rank: 7, +24 points in

Logan Clampitt turned up the heat over the summer, finishing no worse than 15th (Las Vegas) since Indianapolis in June. It was precisely what he needed to do to make the playoffs – and a 24-plus-point gap over ninth gives him a little bit of breathing room.

Ryan Luza, Williams Esports

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Rank: 6, +32 points in

A promising run at Las Vegas – where he’d previously gone undefeated – went south quickly for 2017 series champion Ryan Luza. His plunge to sixth in points now makes it a mathematical possibility he falls out of the playoffs, a thought that seemed impossible when he won three in a row earlier in the year.

Garrett Lowe, Wood Brothers Racing

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Rank: 5, clinched

An uncharacteristic 16.5 average finish since the beginning of July balanced out a fast start to the 2020 season for Garrett Lowe – but why overachieve when you know you’re in the playoffs?

Nick Ottinger, William Byron eSports

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Rank: 4, clinched

Even though Nick Ottinger’s locked into the playoffs, don’t expect him to take it easy at Talladega, where he’s the defending race winner. Superspeedway racing aside, Ottinger’s finished third in four of the last six races this season, a trend he likely hopes will continue.

Michael Conti, JR Motorsports

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Rank: 3, clinched

While a return to Victory Lane continues to elude Michael Conti, he’s locked into the playoffs and has his eyes on the six-figure prize. That makes Talladega a little easier for Conti, which should come as welcome news: his two ‘Dega finishes are 29th and 30th.

Bobby Zalenski, Team VRS

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Rank: 2, clinched

Yes, Bobby Zalenski could race blindfolded at Talladega and nothing would happen – especially with the Charlotte Roval first up in the playoffs – but we don’t expect Zalenski to step aside Tuesday. He won at Daytona last month, and there’s no reason to think he won’t contend again at Talladega.

Keegan Leahy, Denny Hamlin Racing

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Rank: 1, clinched

When the Denny Hamlin-Michael Jordan-owned NASCAR Cup Series team inevitably wins a race, let’s not forget the team’s first winner, Keegan Leahy. Leahy’s got a seven-point lead, and it’s fair to say he’ll try to work some of his season-opening Daytona-winning magic Tuesday in order to snag the regular-season points battle.

??Catch the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series regular season finale from Talladega Superspeedway Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. ET, at eNASCAR.com/live.