news nascar notebook all eight playoff spots still open as cup series moves to talladega
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NASCAR Notebook: All eight playoff spots still open as Cup Series moves to Talladega

nascarThere are two races left in the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12, and all eight spots in the next round of the playoffs are still up for grabs.

The series moves this weekend to Talladega’s 2.66-mile oval for the YellaWood 500 on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Five drivers in the playoff field  – Joey Logano (3), Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin (2), and Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott (1) – have recorded wins at the track.

Blaney and Hamlin (16.9) have the best average finish at ‘Dega among the playoff drivers, with Logano (17.5) a close third in that metric.

Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating    
   
1 Joey Logano 27 0 3 9 11 9 17.5 90.4    
2 Ross Chastain 7 0 1 1 1 0 19.6 58.0    
3 Kyle Larson 15 0 0 1 3 5 23.1 76.0    
4 Ryan Blaney 16 0 2 3 5 4 16.9 91.1    
5 Denny Hamlin 33 0 2 9 14 5 16.9 83.5    
6 Daniel Suárez 11 0 0 0 1 4 22.1 66.2    
7 Chase Elliott 13 2 1 4 6 3 15.2 89.3    
8 Chase Briscoe 3 0 0 0 0 1 20.7 57.3    
9 Austin Cindric 1 0 0 0 0 0 21.0 57.9    
10 William Byron 9 0 0 2 2 3 19.0 85.4    
11 Christopher Bell 5 1 0 1 1 1 22.4 73.7    
12 Alex Bowman 14 0 0 1 4 6 24.4 74.2  

Winning the playoff race at Talladega

Since the inception of the elimination-style format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, the driver that wins at Talladega Superspeedway in the postseason has clinched a needed spot in the next round in six of the eight races held (2014-2021).

Logano in 2015 is the lone winner at Talladega since 2014 that had already clinched his spot in the next round prior to competing at the 2.66-mile track – Logano swept the Round of 12 in 2015 winning all three races that season (Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega).

Last season, for the first-time a non-Playoff driver (Bubba Wallace) won the Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race since the elimination-style format was introduced in 2014.

Penalty drops Byron in points race

William Byron (3,033 points) was issued a penalty of 25 driver points for his contact with the No. 11 car driven by Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas last weekend. Now the North Carolina native sits 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff outlook standings eight points back from the Round of 8 cutoff.

Byron is looking to advance out of the Round of 12 for the first-time in his career. In nine starts at Talladega, he has put up two top fives and an average finish of 19.0.

Chris Graham

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