Playoff Pulse: Analyzing the field after Homestead


Another playoff race without a championship-eligible driver in Victory Lane means the intensity will reach its peak next Sunday when the Championship 4 is set at Martinsville Speedway. With three title bids still up for grabs, let’s take a look at the Cup Series playoff field following the Round of 8 midpoint at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

WINNER

Kyle Larson put on a dominant performance Sunday, leading 199 of the 267 laps at the South Florida 1.5-mile oval to take his third win of the season. While he’s not eligible for the big trophy at Phoenix Raceway, he’s clinched a title berth for the No. 5 team as they chase the owners’ championship.

RELATED: Official results | Cup schedule

WHO’S HOT?

Ross Chastain. Two runner-up finishes in a row for the Florida native have him in a good position above the elimination line heading into the penultimate race of the 2022 season. Homestead marked his fifth top-10 finish in the playoffs and the third top-five run in the last four races. Martinsville could solidify Chastain’s bid for a title shot at Phoenix as he finished fifth there in the spring.

WHO’S NOT?

Chase Briscoe. After overcoming early woes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Briscoe’s chances of reaching the Championship 4 will come down to being victorious at Martinsville after hitting the wall near the end of Stage 2, parachuting the No. 14 Ford to a 36th-place finish at Homestead.

BUBBLE WATCH

Rank Driver Cutoff
1. Joey Logano WIN
2. Ross Chastain +19
3. Chase Elliott +11
4. William Byron +5
——– ELIMINATION LINE ———-
5. Denny Hamlin -5
6. Ryan Blaney -18
7. Christopher Bell -33
8. Chase Briscoe -44

NEXT RACE

The Championship 4 will be set next Sunday with the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

WHO IT FAVORS

William Byron. In the spring and under the lights, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet led 212 of 403 laps to take the checkered flag at Martinsville for his second win of the year. The victory was no fluke for Byron as he scored back-to-back top-five finishes on the 0.526-mile short track before. With just a five-point advantage after Homestead, Byron will need to run just as well at Martinsville in order to clinch his first Championship 4 berth.

WHO IT HURTS

Christopher Bell. Bell is in a must-win situation at Martinsville if he wants to keep his Championship 4 hopes alive after a hard-fought 11th-place run at Homestead. He grabbed a clutch victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course in a similar scenario. Still, the driver of the No. 20 Toyota has yet to produce quality results at the Virginia short track outside of a single top-10 finish early in 2021.