What Larson, Logano, rest of field must do in NASCAR playoff’s second round #news

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By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

The first round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is for sure a don’t-beat-yourself sort of round.

The second round carries a identical theme, however handiest to a definite extent. And it’s handiest as a result of two of the 3 races are identified for his or her unpredictability. In fact, it is extra of a survive-and-advance sort of round.

NASCAR’s “Round of 12” is its model of the quarterfinal round. It opens Sunday in Texas Motor Speedway, which in the past were in the 3rd (semifinal) round. The ultimate two races of the three-race round are the similar as in earlier years, with Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte street direction (Oct. 9).

Looking forward to the second round

Bob Pockrass breaks down the round of 16 and takes a take a look at what the following round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs appear to be.

Talladega and its sister monitor, Daytona, are identified for high-speed drafting in giant packs that have a tendency to create large multi-car wrecks. The Charlotte street direction (frequently referred to as the “Roval” as a result of of its use of each the oval and a street direction in the infield) is just like different street classes at the Cup time table — it’s simple to get spun or accrued in an incident and feature a top-five day turn out to be a Thirtieth-place day in the general laps.

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“It’s a weird bunch of tracks, so I don’t know,” mentioned protecting Cup champion Kyle Larson. “Hopefully Texas will go good and Talladega we can get some breaks … Usually superspeedways aren’t good for me. So we’ll see.

“The Roval, I feel we will be able to be truly just right at. Just stay running onerous and expectantly get thru this round.”

No driver can feel safe, but the key will be having a cushion following Texas and then being one of the playoff drivers running at the finish at Talladega. It would be great, obviously, to win and not worry about points, as the four winless drivers with the fewest points in the round are eliminated after the Charlotte road course.

“There can be no higher position than Texas (to win) as a result of that’s going to be an important race,” mentioned Christopher Bell, who earned essentially the most issues of any playoff motive force in the primary round.

The seeding and points differential from the cutoff at the start of the round are set by the playoff points that drivers have earned in the first 29 races — five playoff points per race win, one playoff point for each stage win and then playoff points awarded to the top-10 in the regular-season standings on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.

This is how they sit heading into the round, with a little bit of an outlook on each.

No Collapse

Chase Elliott (Seed 1, +31 on cutoff): Elliott entered the first round 33 points ahead of the cutoff and finished 53 points up despite having one bad race, one mediocre race and one very good race. Elliott has two top-10s in superspeedway (Daytona and Talladega) races this year. If it comes down to the Charlotte road course, Elliott has seven career road-course wins. He doesn’t have any in five road-course races this year, but was second at Road America and fourth at Watkins Glen, where he was battling for the win before a tangle with Larson. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, the 2020 Cup champion, was involved in an accident at the all-star race at Texas, the only event at Texas so far this season.

Joey Logano (Seed 2, +18): Logano knows about survive and advance. He retired early from Bristol and still advanced by being 33 points ahead of the cutoff. Logano hasn’t finished on the lead lap of any superspeedway race this year, so he hopes his luck turns around at Talladega. He also hasn’t had much joy on road courses this year, but he was third at Watkins Glen. The Team Penske driver, the 2018 Cup champion, was fourth at the all-star race, so bring on Texas.

No Mistakes. No Wrecks

Ross Chastain (Seed 3, +11): Chastain did what he had to do in the first round, advancing with 49 points to spare. Do we need to remind anyone that Chastain’s two victories this year came at Talladega and the road course at Circuit of the Americas? That should give him some confidence going into this round, although he finished in the 20s in the last two road-course events. The Trackhouse driver was involved in an accident in the all-star race.

Kyle Larson (Seed 4, +10): The defending Cup champ somewhat cruised through the first round, advancing at 50 points ahead of the cutoff. Larson wrecked in both Daytona races but was fourth at Talladega, which might give him a little confidence for that race. He won the most recent road-course race at Watkins Glen and was third at Road America. The Hendrick driver was involved in an accident at the all-star race.

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William Byron (Seed 5, +6): Byron was once cast in the primary round, advancing with 71 issues to spare. This round is probably not so clean. Byron doesn’t have a top-10 in the 3 superspeedway races. His absolute best road-course end this yr was once 9th. He was once eleventh in the all-star race at a time when Hendrick wasn’t sturdy on intermediates. He will want to display how a lot development they’ve made at Texas, or it generally is a tough round.

Denny Hamlin (Seed 6, +4): Hamlin opened the playoffs with back-to-back second-place finishes and complex with 58 issues to spare.  He has 5 occupation superspeedway wins, however they haven’t been type to him this yr. The Toyotas additionally struggled on street classes, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Hamlin isn’t any exception without a top-10s. He was once second in the all-star race at Texas, which seems to be where the place Hamlin must carry out to be ok with his possibilities to advance.

Christopher Bell (Seed 7, +4): Bell had the most efficient first round of any motive force as he clinched a place on issues after two races and completed 93 issues forward of the cutoff. Bell hasn’t completed at the lead lap of any superspeedway race this yr, so he’s going to want to flip round his success at Talladega. He has two top-10s at street classes this yr, so will want to have a cast day on the street direction. The JGR motive force was once mediocre (tenth) in the all-star race at Texas.

Christopher Bell: No higher position than Texas to win

Christopher Bell got here up quick at Bristol however he’s having a look ahead to Texas. Bell: “There would be no better place than Texas (to win) because that’s going to be a very important race.”

Ryan Blaney (Seed 8, +4): Blaney had an terrible Bristol and needed to sweat it out working 160 laps down till different playoff drivers had bother. The Team Penske motive force nonetheless made it via 26 issues. This round may well be higher for Blaney. He received the all-star race at Texas. He has 3 occupation superspeedway wins and likewise has received on the Charlotte street direction in his occupation. He has two top-10s in the 5 street classes this yr.

No Points Left On Table

Chase Briscoe (Seed 9, -4 on cutoff): Briscoe was once the largest marvel at Bristol, as he went from 9 issues out of the playoffs to completing 14 issues forward of the minimize. Briscoe was once 3rd in the Daytona 500, however he crashed out in the opposite two superspeedway races. His absolute best end at the street classes this yr is thirteenth, so if he has to get it executed on the Charlotte street direction, which may be an issue. So he must have a just right race at Texas, the place he was once now not just right in the all-star race (completed 18th out of 24). One factor he would possibly have going for him — he’s the one Stewart-Haas Racing motive force left in the playoffs, which means that the total power of the group will focal point on his vehicle.

Alex Bowman (Seed 10, -6): It is a bit of unexpected to look Bowman this low making an allowance for how smartly he raced at Darlington and Kansas in the primary round. He made this round via 28 issues regardless of chucking up the sponge of Bristol early after being stuck up in an coincidence. He has one top-10 end in the 3 superspeedway races this yr. The Hendrick motive force was once second at COTA, however that was once his handiest top-10 on a street direction this yr. He was once 6th in the all-star race. All the ones effects must marvel no person since he has been inconsistent this yr. But if he has the consistency he had in the primary two races of the hole round, he’ll be nice.

Daniel Suarez (Seed. 11, -6): Suarez slightly were given into the second round as he controlled to crash at Bristol (doing away with Austin Dillon and impacting Tyler Reddick, each of whom have been in the end eradicated) and completed a number of laps down however with seven issues to spare. He doesn’t have a top-10 at a superspeedway race this yr. He does have a road-course win at Sonoma and top-5s at Road America and Watkins Glen. As some distance as Texas, the Trackhouse motive force was once just right all through all-star weekend, profitable the general level of the open to advance after which completing 5th in the principle tournament. So a just right go back to Texas will probably be key.

Austin Cindric (Seed 12, -7): Cindric fought tire problems at Bristol however complex via a trifling two issues, giving the Team Penske rookie just a little of a brand new lifestyles in this round. And it generally is a just right round for him with Talladega and the Charlotte street direction. He received the Daytona 500 and was once 3rd there in July, so he has attainable at Talladega. He has two top-5s and two top-10s in his 5 road-course begins this yr. Cindric was once a good 7th in the all-star race.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent a long time masking motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene mag and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.


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