Playoff Pulse: Analyzing the field after Talladega

After an intense race at the midpoint in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, only one race remains that will determine who advances to the Round of 8 after next Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. Take a look at where the playoff field stands after Talladega.

WINNER

Chase Elliott is through to the Round of 8 with his second victory at Talladega Superspeedway. Leading just 10 laps, the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet got a push from Erik Jones on the final lap coming off Turn 4 and beat the field to the finish line. Elliott ended the streak of non-championship-eligible drivers winning playoff races and can go for the win at a favorable track for him in Charlotte next week.

RELATED: Official results | Cup schedule

WHO’S HOT?

Ryan Blaney. Blaney came runner-up to Elliott at Talladega, losing by a mere .046 seconds at the finish line. While still winless in 2022, the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford has moved into second in the playoff standings, 32 points above the Round of 8 elimination line and now heads to a track where he’s finished no worse than ninth and won the inaugural event in 2018.

WHO’S NOT?

Christopher Bell. Bell’s stellar runs in the Round of 16 have done a complete 180-degree flip in the Round of 12 with finishes of 34th and 17th at Texas and Talladega, respectively. He does have a pair of top-10 finishes at road courses this season but as he sits 33 points below the elimination line, Bell will need to maximize stage points and likely need to win in order to secure a spot in the Round of 8.

BUBBLE WATCH

Rank Driver Cutoff
5. Joey Logano  +18
6. Kyle Larson  +18
7. William Byron  +14
8. Daniel Suárez  +12
——– ELIMINATION LINE ———-
9. Chase Briscoe  -12
10. Austin Cindric  -12
11. Christopher Bell  -45
12. Alex Bowman  -66

NEXT RACE

The Round of 12 comes to an end and the Round of 8 will be set next Sunday with the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

WHO IT FAVORS

Chase Elliott. While finishing outside the top 10 in last year’s edition at the Roval, Elliott is the only driver to own two victories on the oval/road course hybrid and is already locked into the Round of 8 after scoring the win at Talladega. His average finish of fifth is also the best of any active driver at the track and has scored four top 10s in five road-course races this season.

WHO IT HURTS

Chase Briscoe. Briscoe only has one start at the Charlotte road course and that ended in a 22nd-place run. His road course stats this season haven’t turned any heads either with a best finish of 13th at Sonoma Raceway. Briscoe is tied with Austin Cindric for the spot directly below the elimination line. With no advantage over fellow Ford driver Austin Cindric, Briscoe will not only have to focus on his race but will need to be aware of the No. 2 Team Penske entry’s position throughout all of next Sunday as they battle to get on the good side of the bubble.