Following the conclusion of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16 at Bristol Motor Speedway, a total of 12 drivers have advanced, and now prepare for the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday, September 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – the first race of the Round of 12.
The 2022 season marks the first-time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 has opened at Texas Motor Speedway (Race No. 30 of the season). Texas is the seventh different track to host the fourth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; joining Kansas Speedway (2004, 2005, 2011, 2013, 2014), Talladega Superspeedway (2006, 2007, 2008, 2012), Auto Club Speedway (2009, 2010), Charlotte Motor Speedway (2015, 2016, 2017), Dover Motor Speedway (2018, 2019) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2020, 2021).
The inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs was in 2004 and Texas Motor Speedway was added to the postseason schedule in 2005 – at the time replacing Darlington Raceway – and ever since the 1.5-mile track has been hosting Playoff events (2005-2022). Texas Motor Speedway has occupied three spots on the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs schedule throughout the years. From 2005 – 2020, Texas Motor Speedway hosted the eighth race in the Cup Series Playoffs (Race No. 34 of the season). Then in 2021, Texas Motor Speedway hosted the seventh race in the Playoffs (Race No. 33), and this season, Texas will host the fourth race in the Playoffs (Race No. 30).
A total of 14 different drivers have won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson with three postseason victories (2009, 2011, 2016). Team Penske’s Joey Logano leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with two wins (2014, 2015). Four of the 14 drivers that have won the fourth Playoff race in the NASCAR Cup Series are active in the postseason this weekend – Denny Hamlin (2021), Kyle Larson (2019), Chase Elliott (2018) and Joey Logano (2014, 2015).
|Fourth Race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Race Winners|
|Track||Playoff Race Winners||Date|
|Las Vegas||Denny Hamlin||Sunday, September 26, 2021|
|Las Vegas||Kurt Busch||Sunday, September 27, 2020|
|Dover||Kyle Larson||Sunday, October 6, 2019|
|Dover||Chase Elliott||Sunday, October 7, 2018|
|Charlotte||Martin Truex Jr||Sunday, October 8, 2017|
|Charlotte||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, October 9, 2016|
|Charlotte||Joey Logano||Sunday, October 11, 2015|
|Kansas||Joey Logano||Sunday, October 5, 2014|
|Kansas||Kevin Harvick||Sunday, October 6, 2013|
|Talladega||Matt Kenseth||Sunday, October 7, 2012|
|Kansas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, October 9, 2011|
|Auto Club||Tony Stewart||Sunday, October 10, 2010|
|Auto Club||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, October 11, 2009|
|Talladega||Tony Stewart||Sunday, October 5, 2008|
|Talladega||Jeff Gordon||Sunday, October 7, 2007|
|Talladega||Brian Vickers||Sunday, October 8, 2006|
|Kansas||Mark Martin||Sunday, October 9, 2005|
|Kansas||Joe Nemechek||Sunday, October 10, 2004|
Nine different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Jimmie Johnson with five postseason Texas victories (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with three Texas Playoff wins (2017-2019). Denny Hamlin (2010) and Kyle Larson (2021) are the only former Texas Playoff race winners still competing in this season’s Playoffs.
- Next Race: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500
- The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
- The Date: Sunday, September 25
- The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- The Purse: $8,455,617
- TV: USA, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
- Distance: 501 miles (334 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 105),
- Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 210), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 334)
|Texas Motor Speedway Playoffs Race Winners|
|Track||Playoff Race Winners||Date|
|Texas||Carl Edwards||Sunday, November 6, 2005|
|Texas||Tony Stewart||Sunday, November 5, 2006|
|Texas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, November 4, 2007|
|Texas||Carl Edwards||Sunday, November 2, 2008|
|Texas||Kurt Busch||Sunday, November 8, 2009|
|Texas||Denny Hamlin||Sunday, November 7, 2010|
|Texas||Tony Stewart||Sunday, November 6, 2011|
|Texas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, November 4, 2012|
|Texas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, November 3, 2013|
|Texas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, November 2, 2014|
|Texas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, November 8, 2015|
|Texas||Carl Edwards||Sunday, November 6, 2016|
|Texas||Kevin Harvick||Sunday, November 5, 2017|
|Texas||Kevin Harvick||Sunday, November 4, 2018|
|Texas||Kevin Harvick||Sunday, November 3, 2019|
|Texas||Kyle Busch||Sunday, October 25, 2020|
|Texas||Kyle Larson||Sunday, October 17, 2021|
Three times the winner of the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the title in the same season: 2009, 2016 and 2017.
- In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won the fourth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Auto Club Speedway and went on to win his fourth-straight series title in the same season (2006-2009). The victory was his second of four wins during his postseason run that year.
- In 2016, Jimmie Johnson won at Charlotte Motor Speedway (oval) and went on to win his record tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series title that same season (2006-2010, 2013, 2016). The win was Johnson’s first of three that postseason.
- In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to win the series title that same season. It was his first of three wins that postseason run.
Three times the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway Playoff race has gone on to win the title later that same season: 2007, 2011 and 2013.
- In 2007, Jimmie Johnson won from the eighth starting position at Texas Motor Speedway and went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title later that season (2006-2007). The Playoff win at Texas was his third of four consecutive victories in the 2007 Playoffs – the only driver to win four straight in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix).
- In 2011, Tony Stewart won from the fifth starting position at Texas Motor Speedway and went on to win his third NASCAR Cup Series championship later that season. The Texas Playoff win was Stewart’s fourth of his record setting five NASCAR Cup Series Playoff wins in a single postseason run in 2011 (Chicago, New Hampshire, Martinsville, Texas, Homestead-Miami) – Larson’s five Playoff wins last year tied Stewart’s record.
- In 2013, Jimmie Johnson won from the third starting position at Texas Motor Speedway and went on to win his sixth NASCAR Cup Series championship later that season. The Texas Playoff win was Johnson’s second postseason victory (Dover, Texas) in 2013.
Twice a non-Playoff driver has won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs: 2004 and 2006.
- In 2004, Joe Nemechek won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Kansas Speedway, he was ranked 21st in the point standings at the time of the victory.
- In 2006, Brian Vickers won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Talladega Superspeedway, he was ranked 16th in points at the time of the victory.
Three times a non-Playoff driver has won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race at Texas Motor Speedway: 2006, 2014, and 2015.
- In 2006, Tony Stewart was ranked 11th in the point standings at the time of his Texas Playoff race win.
- In 2014, Jimmie Johnson was ranked 11th in points at the time of his Texas Playoff win. Johnson had made the Playoffs in 2014 but was eliminated in the Round of 12.
- In 2015, Jimmie Johnson was 12th in points at the time of the win. Johnson had made the Playoffs in 2015 but was eliminated in the Round of 16.
The worst finish by a driver in the fourth NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race that later went on to win the series title that same season was the 24th-place finish by Jimmie Johnson in 2006 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The worst finish by a driver in the NASCAR Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway Playoffs race that later went on to win the title that same season was a 38th-place finish by Jimmie Johnson in 2009.
Looking Back: NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway
The stage is set for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Texas Motor Speedway and another great weekend of racing action on the 1.5-mile high-speed oval is on tap as the series jumps into the Round of 12.
Texas Motor Speedway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series 41 times producing 25 different Busch Light Pole winners and 21 different race winners. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway was on April 6, 1997, and the race was won by Jeff Burton in a RFK Racing Ford (125.111 mph). The first NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway was held on November 6, 2005, and the race was won by RFK Racing driver Carl Edwards (151.055 mph). Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson is the most recent points-paying race winner at Texas Motor Speedway, grabbing the checkered flag in last season’s Playoff race. Larson also won the 2021 NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway as well. This season’s All-Star Race winner at Texas Motor Speedway was Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.
A total of 25 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won the pole at Texas Motor Speedway, and six of the 25 NASCAR Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway pole winners are active this weekend. Kurt Busch leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Texas with three (Spring 2015, Playoffs 2017, Spring 2018). Kevin Harvick (2017, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2007, 2012) lead all active drivers in NASCAR Cup Series poles at Texas Motor Speedway with two each.
|Active Texas Pole Winners||Poles||Season|
|Kevin Harvick||2||2019, ’17|
|Martin Truex Jr||2||2012, ’07|
A total of 21 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway, and six of the 21 Cup Series Texas winners are active this weekend. Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with seven victories (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 sweep and 2017) in 35 starts. Kyle Busch leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with four victories (2013, 2016, 2018, 2020).
|Active Texas Race Winners||Wins||Seasons|
|Kyle Busch||4||2020, ’18, ’16, ’13|
|Denny Hamlin||3||2019, ’10 sweep|
|Kevin Harvick||3||2019, ’18, ’17|
Last season’s NASCAR Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway Playoff race winner, Kyle Larson, returns to Texas to defend his win and get his first postseason victory of 2022. Larson has made 14 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway posting one win (2021), four top fives and five top 10s.
If Larson were to win this weekend, he would become the fourth different driver to win consecutive points-paying races at Texas Motor Speedway; joining Jimmie Johnson (2014 Playoff race and 2015 sweep), Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep).
Clinch Scenarios: Texas Motor Speedway
Following an intense NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16 elimination-race at Bristol Motor Speedway, four postseason contenders were eliminated from the Playoffs – Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick. Now, the Playoffs rerack as the Round of 12 gets underway at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend with the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 on Sunday, September 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
With this weekend’s race being the first of the Playoffs’ Round of 12, the clinch scenarios are quite simple.
No drivers have clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round.
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and Austin Cindric.
Heading into this weekend at Texas, the entire NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 field is only separated by 34 points. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney is currently sitting in the eighth and final transfer spot on points to the Round of 8 and holds a four-point lead on Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe in the ninth position – the first spot outside the next round’s cutoff.
|NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoffs Outlook Following Race No. 29|
|Rank||Driver||Points||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||+/- Cutoff|
|13||Tyler Reddick||2,067||2||2||12||Eliminated from the Playoffs|
Up Next: Round of 12 tracks offer slew of challenges
Tabbed by many of the competitors this season as the ‘Wild Card’ round, the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 offers a bevy of challenges for the drivers and teams as they try to navigate through the next three races at vastly different racetracks.
Texas Motor Speedway is first up, and this 1.5-mile track is unlike any other on the schedule. The facility is located in Fort Worth, Texas, just outside Dallas and boast 20 degrees of banking in Turns 1 and 2 and 24 degrees of banking in Turns 3 and 4. This weekend’s race the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will be 501 miles (334 laps) and will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 105 laps each and the final stage will be 124 laps. Though probably considered the most-tame of the three tracks this round, Texas is still unpredictable and has seen five different winners in the last five races – Denny Hamlin (03/2019), Kevin Harvick (11/2019), Austin Dillon (7/2020), Kyle Busch (10/2020) and Kyle Larson (10/2021).
Talladega Superspeedway is next on the Playoff schedule following Texas, the behemoth 2.66-mile superspeedway is one of the most unpredictable on NASCAR Cup Series schedule. With 33 degrees of banking in all four turns, Talladega produces some of the closest racing action the series has to offer. Next weekend’s race the YellaWood 500 on October 2 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will be 500.08 miles (188 laps) and will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 60 laps each and the final stage will be 68 laps. Much like Texas, Talladega has produced five different winners in its last five Cup races – Ryan Blaney (10/2019), Denny Hamlin (10/2020), Brad Keselowski (04/2021), Bubba Wallace (10/2021) and Ross Chastain (04/2022).
Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL is scheduled for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 elimination-race in two weeks, cutting the postseason’s 12-driver field down to eight competitors. Though a road course, the Charlotte ROVAL is as unpredictable with its NASCAR Cup Series finishes as Talladega. The 17-turn course spans the infield and parts of the oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway making it a unique challenge for the Playoff competitors. The Bank of America ROVAL 400 on October 9 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will be 252.88 miles (109 laps) and will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 25 laps each and the final stage will be 59 laps.
Texas native Chris Buescher is the 19th different winner of 2022
Holding off the field for 57 laps following the final restart and taking the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway, RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher snapped the longest active winless streak in the series at 223 races and became the 19th different winner of the season. As a result, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is now tied with the 1956, 1958, 1961 and 2001 seasons for the series-most different winners in a single season at 19 each. If this year were to see another different winner in these final seven races, then the 2022 season would become the sole leader in the NASCAR Cup Series in the number of different winners in a single season at 20.
The Bristol victory was the first points-paying race win for RFK Racing since Brad Keselowski joined the organization as an owner, and the second win of Buescher’s Cup Series career (Pocono, 2016 and Bristol, 2022).
“We’ve had a great week celebrating and taking in everything associated with the Bristol win, but I’m just as excited to get back to my home state of Texas and see friends and family and give our Fastenal Mustang another good run this weekend. We put together a solid plan for the All-Star Race this spring and had good success, so our goal is to capitalize on that even more and keep the train rolling this weekend.”
Now the Prosper, Texas native, Buescher, heads to Texas Motor Speedway to make it two wins in a row. Buescher has made 12 series starts at Texas posting an average finish of 22.7. Buescher’s best finish at his home track is 15th back in 2018.
Oklahoman Christopher Bell emerges from the Playoffs’ Round of 16 as a contender
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell entered the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16 as the 10th seed with the pedal to the floor, as he was the only driver in that round to post three top-five finishes and clinch his spot in the Round of 12 prior to the elimination-race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Plus, he finished the Round of 16 in the Playoff standings lead by not only finishing well, but by dominating his competitors in stage points. Bell accumulated 50 stage points in the first three Playoff races – 14 more stage points than the next highest driver, Kyle Busch with 36.
Now that the Playoff competitors have been reseeded for the Round of 12, Bell is ranked seventh in the standings, just 27 points back from Chase Elliott in the Playoff standings lead, and only four points above the Round of 8 cut line. This is Bell’s second career appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2021, 2022) and the Oklahoma native is looking to advance to the Round of 8 for the first time. He was eliminated in the Round of 12 in last season’s Playoffs, ultimately finishing 12th in the final championship standings.
But this weekend is looking fortuitous for Bell, as Texas Motor Speedway is a track at which he has exceled. In three series starts at the 1.5-mile facility, he has put up two top-five finishes and has an average finish of 9.0 (second-best among active drivers).
“Texas is one of my best tracks statistically and a place I enjoy racing at,” Bell said. “It’s a very important race and we need to capitalize on Texas before heading into Talladega.”
Playoff Bubble: All-Star winner Ryan Blaney returns to Texas
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has advanced to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 after a slow start to his postseason run putting up just one top-10 finish in the Round of 16. Now the North Carolina native shows up to Texas Motor Speedway as the winner of the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race, which was held at this same 1.5-mile facility back in May, needing a boost to his championship chase.
Currently, Blaney sits in the eighth and final transfer spot on points in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings up just four points on Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe in ninth – the first spot outside the Round of 8 cutoff. This is Blaney’s sixth appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2017, ’18, ’19, ’20, ’21, ’22) and he is looking to advance to the Round of 8 for the fourth-time in his career (2017, ’19, ’21).
In addition to his NASCAR All-Star Race win at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season, the 27-year-old has made 13 points-paying race starts at the 1.5-mile speedway posting three top fives and seven top 10s. He has a career-best Texas finish of runner-up in 2018 and has an average finish at the track of 16.3.
Heading into this weekend at Texas, the four drivers seeded below Blaney in the Playoff standings and currently are ranked outside the Round of 8 cutoff are Chase Briscoe (-4 points), Alex Bowman (-6), Daniel Suárez (-6) and Austin Cindric (-7).
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.
Chris Buescher vs. Ryan Blaney (Fan Vote) – Chris Buescher’s second career NASCAR Cup Series win came this past weekend at Bristol, where he held off Chase Elliott and made it three consecutive non-playoff race winners to open the 2022 postseason. Fans voted for Buescher to be matched up with Ryan Blaney, who had avoided a scare this week when he broke a toe link but managed to rebound and make the Round of 12. Texas is one of Blaney’s best tracks, boasting a driver rating of 111. He’ll be excited to come back to Texas where he won the All-Star race this year. Although Buescher is ineligible for the championship, he’ll look to continue his great season and build more momentum for RFK Racing ahead of next year.
Chase Elliott vs. Joey Logano – Although he finished second, it was a much-needed race for Elliott, who got back on track and is once again the leader in the Playoff standings as we kick off the Round of 12 at Texas. Elliott holds a 15-point cushion on second place Joey Logano, who’s had a consistent start to the Playoffs. Logano holds a 16-point advantage in driver rating over Elliott at Texas and has the edge with two top fives in his last five races here. At a track like Texas where track position is so crucial, it will be imperative that both drivers qualify well and avoid any mistakes.
Kyle Larson vs. Ross Chastain – Although neither driver got a win in the first three races of the Playoffs, Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson, both safely made it into the Round of 12. They find each other separated by just one point for third and fourth in the Playoff standings. Larson led 256 laps and won the Playoff race here last year, so he’ll be eager to repeat that performance this week. Ross Chastain will be looking to turn around his luck at Texas Motor Speedway, as he has yet to post a top 10 in eight races here. Both of these drivers are known to qualify well, so they should start with solid track position in this crucial Round of 12 opening race.
Denny Hamlin vs. Christopher Bell – They lost their lone Joe Gibbs Racing Playoff teammate Kyle Busch this week, as he was not able to qualify for the Round of 12, so Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell are the only Toyota teammates left in the Playoffs. Bell was the first driver to lock himself into the Round of 12 after putting together three quality races in a row. Both drivers run well at Texas as Christopher Bell has two top fives and Denny Hamlin has one win. Sitting sixth and seventh in the Playoff standings, will one of these JGR teammates be the first Playoff driver to record a Playoff win and seal a spot in the Round of 8?
Daughtry to perform pre-race concert at Texas Motor Speedway – Daughtry, the multi-platinum rock band, will perform a pre-race concert for the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Texas Motor Speedway.
Daughtry will perform a 60-minute set beginning at 1 p.m. CT on the pre-race stage near the start/finish line. The concert highlights the pre-race activities leading into the speedway’s 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race, the opening race of the Round of 12.
Daughtry is one of the most visible and consistently successful rock bands on tour, having sold more than nine million albums and 16 million singles worldwide.
“We’re honored to announce Daughtry as the pre-race concert for this year’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500,” said Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Rob Ramage. “The tremendous energy the band always brings to the stage and their lengthy catalog of great hits will have our NASCAR race fans singing along to every song leading into the green flag of our NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race. Daughtry’s performance is a great addition to the full schedule of entertainment and motorsports competition we have planned for the entire week.”