The 2022 NASCAR Cup Sequence season has delivered near-constant surprises all year long, however the unpredictable playoff journey to the Championship 4 may already be over.
Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, and Kyle Larson are the highest 4 seeds because the NASCAR Playoffs enter the Spherical of 12 Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Likelihood is good these names would be the similar when the collection heads to Phoenix Raceway in November for the race to determine the championship.
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Sequence season has been wildly unpredictable
The 2022 season has been as wild as any in NASCAR historical past. The 19 totally different winners tie 2001 for the trendy period (since 1972) report for many in a season, and that is the primary time at the very least 16 totally different drivers received a race within the common season for the reason that sport instituted a playoff format in 2004.
The parity of the Subsequent Gen automobile’s first 12 months didn’t cease within the postseason, both. Every of the three races within the Spherical of 16 had winners who weren’t within the 16-driver playoff subject.
Erik Jones took the No. 43 automobile to Victory Lane for its first go to in additional than eight years within the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Bubba Wallace received his second profession race the next week at Kansas Speedway. And Chris Buescher notched his second profession win Saturday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway.
These drivers had a mixed 4 wins earlier than the playoffs started, they usually every beat a subject that features drivers with a mixed eight Cup Sequence championships on their collective resume.
The highest of the playoff subject ought to stay fixed because the postseason rolls alongside
Nonetheless, the highest 4 within the playoff standings to start the second spherical ought to be the favorites to be the 4 in competition for the title at Phoenix Raceway.
Elliott, Logano, Chastain, and Larson have 4 of the highest six common ending positions all through the season. They’ve mixed to win 10 of the primary 29 races this season, together with eight pole awards. Plus, they’re the one 4 drivers who’ve collected sufficient playoff factors to be 10-or-more factors above the elimination cutline.
The Spherical of 12 has a few potential pitfall races, little doubt. After opening Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the playoffs shift to Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval, which usually produce two of probably the most unpredictable races of any season.
Playoff factors and prior success ought to give high postseason drivers the perfect shot on the Championship 4
These 4 drivers have extra of a factors cushion to outlive these races than the opposite eight nonetheless eligible to contend for the Championship 4, they usually have additionally had success on the tracks on this spherical of the postseason.
Elliott has the biggest margin for error along with his 40 playoff factors due to 4 wins and 15 factors because the regular-season champion. He doesn’t have stellar numbers on the first two tracks on this spherical, however he has received two of the 4 Cup Sequence races on the Charlotte Roval. His solely non-top-10 end on the street course inside Charlotte Motor Speedway was final season when a tussle with Kevin Harvick disrupted his race and left him in twelfth.
Logano sits 15 factors behind Elliott however nonetheless has a 19-point hole over ninth, which would be the first spot eradicated after the second spherical. Logano’s 11 top-fives at Texas are the third-most of any lively driver; he has three profession wins at Talladega and completed within the high 10 in all 4 earlier races on the Roval.
Chastain is the outlier of this group. He doesn’t drive for a traditionally dominant group similar to Hendrick Motorsports (Elliott and Larson) or Group Penske (Logano). His Trackhouse Racing crew is in its first 12 months of operation and has set the game on hearth.
Chastain received two of the primary 10 races this season, together with the spring race at Talladega. He was as excessive as second within the factors standings into July till he hit a stoop as soon as Denny Hamlin pinched him into the Flip 1 outdoors wall on an extra time restart at Pocono Raceway.
He then failed to complete higher than 18th in seven consecutive races by the playoff opener at Darlington. Chastain has managed a pair of top-seven finishes within the final two races, nevertheless, and is 11 factors above the elimination cutline.
Reigning Cup Sequence champion Larson resides one level behind Chastain. He leads the collection with a 7.9 common beginning place, his 11 top-fives are tied with Elliott for probably the most within the collection, and he has the latest points-paying wins at each Texas and the Roval.
A number of potential surprises absolutely await on this second playoff spherical, however these 4 drivers have each the factors banked and up to date success that ought to give them higher possibilities than any others to be the 4 who determine the championship at Phoenix.
Stats courtesy of Racing Reference
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