NASCAR Cup Series
By Staff Report
Published: 9 Oct, 2022
3 Minute Read
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course resulted in the second group of four drivers being eliminated from the 2022 playoffs, finalizing the eight remaining championship contenders.
Christopher Bell entered Sunday’s race needing a win and nothing else. After a masterful strategy call on the second-to-last restart, Bell pulled ahead of race leader Kevin Harvick and sailed off into the sunset for a dramatic, walk-off victory to advance to the Round of 8. It was Bell’s second victory of the 2022 season and first on a road course since his Daytona International Speedway road course win in February 2021. The win shuffled the standings, resulting in defending series champion Kyle Larson left on the outside of the elimination line and out of the championship hunt.
RELATED: Race results | Photos from Charlotte
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
Daniel Suárez, Trackhouse Racing
Austin Cindric, Team Penske
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports (missed Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Roval)
ADVANCING TO THE ROUND OF 8
(Ordered by the points reset after Charlotte Roval)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, 4,046
Joey Logano, Team Penske, 4,026
Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing, 4,021
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, 4,018
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, 4,015
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, 4,015
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, 4,013
Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, 4,009
Christopher Bell. In a season where parity has written most of the story lines, you can put a premium on the type of momentum Bell gained with his victory. Bell strung together a near-flawless Round of 16 performance, stalled by a mishap at Texas Motor Speedway and an unfruitful Talladega, leaving him in the win-or-go-home situation at the Roval. But with the Round of 12 behind him, Bell and the No. 20 team are right back on track and climbing toward the top of title talks. He now has six finishes of eighth or better in the last nine races and his top-10 result at Las Vegas in March should have them trending upward in the playoff outlook.
Ryan Blaney. Remembering that this is relative to the other remaining contenders, questions still surround the No. 12 team and Blaney on if they will reach Victory Lane this season. Blaney is the only winless driver remaining in the playoffs and slides down in the standings a bit on the reset because of this. After starting the playoffs 0-for-4, playoff drivers have once again reasserted that winning is the standard in the tight playoff push. Yes, Blaney had a solid Round of 12 with top-four finishes at Texas Motor Speedway and Talladega. But it may have been his best round with three tracks he has won at in his career. As the field slims down, the pressure is on for Blaney to get a win sooner rather than later.
The Round of 8 opens Sunday, Oct. 16 with the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
WHO IT FAVORS
Joey Logano. Although Denny Hamlin won the Las Vegas playoff race in 2021 and led 31 laps in the spring before drivetrain issues, the track edge among remaining title contenders goes to Logano. Logano has been stellar at the Nevada track, leading the series with an 8.9 average finish to go along with a pair of wins (spring 2019 and 2020) and nearly 500 laps led. In 18 starts, Logano finished outside the top 16 just once all the way back in 2011. If anything, the 2022 season has rewarded consistency in a year where it has been pretty hard to come by. Based on that and the No. 22 Team Penske team’s speed in recent weeks, they should get off to a great start in the Round of 8.
WHO IT HURTS
Chase Briscoe. In three starts at Las Vegas, Briscoe hasn’t found much success with a 23.3 average finish and an unfortunate crash in the spring race. Already on the outside looking in, the No. 14 team will need to pick up the pace and contend for wins if they hope to make it into the Championship 4. On the bright side, Briscoe does have two Xfinity Series wins at the Nevada track, but it is a different story competing against the top talent at the Cup Series level — especially in pursuit of a title. Though he has flashed solid speed at times throughout the year, his lack of experience and routine success in Vegas compared to the remaining contenders hurt him heading to one of the toughest tests of his career.