The MPI CUP Series Playoff field is set
After 6 months of racing, 25 different races, and 23 different historic racing venues, the playoff field of 16 for the MPI Cup series is set. Lawson Peel and Mario Merenda are atop the field which includes eight different winners throughout the 2022 season.
In total 49 different drivers attempted to make the MPI playoffs in 2022, yet only 16 were able to accomplish that goal. The top 8 qualifiers were able to secure a spot in the playoffs by winning at least 1 race, while the bottom eight made it in on points.
First let’s take a look at the eight drivers who secured a win to lock a playoff position:
Warren Kyle Keith
Zach A Wilson
These eight drivers were able to fee some form of calm and relief heading into the season finale at Daytona, as they were guaranteed a playoff berth. While their position in the playoffs could have changed due to the number of wins, knowing that you don’t have to hope for the best at a chaotic Superspeedway race surely must be a relief.
The next eight drivers made it in on points, meaning they had strong consistent runs all season. Here are those eight drivers:
Brandon T Banks
Kipp A Easley
As you can see per the points listed, while some of these drivers did not lock a playoff berth via a win, they were so far ahead of the cut line, that they were guaranteed a spot. Alex Muscarella for example, had a very strong season, scoring 9 Top-10 finishes putting him above the cut line by over one hundred points going into Daytona, and did not need a win to secure his playoff berth.
The feelings of tension and stress were a little higher for the drivers in 14th – 16th though as the regular season finale race winded down, as their spots were not guaranteed. Mere points separated them, and the possibility of a new winner at a track known for an anything can happen mantra, was looming over them.
When the green flag flew for the final restart at Daytona, Kipp Easley was not 16th in points, instead that spot belonged to Garrett Brown, as Brown would be ahead by three points. Meaning every position on track would matter, making a pass on the last lap, in the last corner, could be the difference maker in determining playoff contention. The unknown they both faced though, the driver who was going to restart right behind Mario merenda, the winless Jessie Whittington. A new winner in the series would lock in a spot in the playoffs, meaning there would be one less position available for a driver trying to lock in a position based on points. This meant that not only was there a point battle between Easley and Brown but that also in a few moments’ time, possibly neither would make the playoffs.
Whittington had a great start, as he stuck to the bumper of the leader Merenda and jumped out to 2nd place quickly going into turn one, but his hopes of a playoff berth would not last long. About halfway down the backstretch, Whittington found himself the victim of aggressive traffic, and turned around facing the wrong way, thus ending his chances of winning.
At this moment, the caution flew as the wreck ensued and the race was over. A victorious Mario Merenda led the field around under yellow to the checked flag, and drivers eagerly awaited the results fo the race, and the point standings.
When all was said and done, Kipp Easley locked in the 16th and final playoff position by 1 point, meaning one pass attempt gone wrong, or avoiding or not avoiding the final wreck was ultimately the difference in deciding the final playoff position.
Now the field of 16 looks ahead to the next ten weeks. Knowing that wins now mean more than ever as eliminations will come fast, and a single mistake can cost you everything. The first track, Darlignton, the lady in Black.
You can watch the entire MPI Cup Series playoffs on Podium eSports on our Twitch Channel and interact live with fellow viewers every Sunday night.