The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs continue Sunday, as seven races remain in the 10-race battle for the championship.
RELATED: Cup Series point standings
Last weekend, the Round of 16 – Darlington Raceway, Richmond Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway – concluded, and the four contenders eliminated were Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell.
Up next is the Round of 12, which includes Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. After another four are cut, the Round of 8 will commence at Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. The Championship 4 will finally be determined and compete at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 7. in a straight-up race for the ultimate Bill France Cup trophy.
Here are the 12 drivers (and how they advanced) still vying for the title, in order of their seeding: Kyle Larson (Bristol win), Martin Truex Jr. (Richmond win), Denny Hamlin (Darlington win), Ryan Blaney (points), Kyle Busch (points), Chase Elliott (points), Alex Bowman (points), William Byron (points), Joey Logano (points), Brad Keselowski (points), Christopher Bell (points) and Kevin Harvick (points).
RELATED: Cup Series playoffs hub page
Now, a Round of 12 track-by-track breakdown:
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
(📅 Sunday | ⏰ 7 p.m. ET | 📺 NBCSN | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)
Name: South Point 400
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Length: 1.5 miles
Distance: 267 laps, 400.5 miles
Previous winner: Kyle Larson (March 7, 2021)
RELATED: Las Vegas race results
Kyle Larson won the regular-season event at Las Vegas, leading a race-high 103 of the 267 laps. In addition to Larson, there were eight other NASCAR Playoffs contenders in the top 10 (in order from second to ninth) – Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, William Byron and Joey Logano. Really, the only top-10 finishing driver who’s not in the title battle was Erik Jones in 10th.
Kevin Harvick takes the cake when it comes to Las Vegas experience and also has an edge in top-10 finishes. Keselowski, meanwhile, has the most victories in the desert. Keselowski and Busch are tied for most top fives. But then it’s Logano who has the best average finish.
(📅 Oct. 3 | ⏰ 2 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)
Name: YellaWood 500
Location: Talladega, Alabama
Length: 2.66 miles
Distance: 188 laps, 500.08 miles
Previous winner: Brad Keselowski (April 25, 2021)
RELATED: Talladega race results
Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag in overtime earlier this year, leading the final lap and the final lap alone at Talladega. The race went from its scheduled 188 laps to 191 total. Keselowski and three other postseason drivers survived to finish in the top 10 – William Byron (second), Kevin Harvick (fourth) and Ryan Blaney (ninth).
Harvick, once again, tallies the most career starts and top 10s among his playoff competition. Keselowski easily has the most wins – double more than anyone else – and then checks in with the best average finish. Denny Hamlin then enters with the most top-five finishes.
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROVAL
(📅 Oct. 10 | ⏰ 2 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)
Name: Bank of America ROVAL 400
Location: Concord, North Carolina
Length: 2.32 miles
Distance: 109 laps, 252.88 miles
Previous winner: Chase Elliott (Oct. 11, 2020)
RELATED: Charlotte Roval race results
Chase Elliott proved his road-course talent yet again with a win in the 2020 Charlotte Roval event, leading a race-best 27 of the 109 circuits. Martin Truex Jr., who finished seventh, also led 27 laps. Along with Elliott and Truex, there were four other 2021 playoff drivers in the top 10 – Joey Logano (second), Ryan Blaney (fifth), William Byron (sixth) and Alex Bowman (eighth).
The oval-road course layout was introduced in 2018, and 10 of the current 12 title hopefuls have competed in every race since – Elliott, Truex, Logano, Blaney, Byron, Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Elliott boasts the best marks in every statistical category considered, the sole owner of most wins and best average finish. Blaney and Bowman match him in top fives and 10s. Logano then also ties in top 10s.