The NASCAR Cup Series playoff roster is much lighter than Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
On Sunday, six Chevrolet drivers, four Ford drivers and two Toyota drivers will advance to the Round of 16 – this group includes three former champions (Chase Elliott, Joey Logano as well as Kyle Larson) and one newcomer (Austin Sindrik).
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It’s a real mix, just like the round itself. After Texas, the playoffs move to Talladega Superspeedway and then Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval for the next race.
Sunday’s 500 mile race (3:30 pm ET) will air on USA Network TV.
Take a look at the drivers to view on TMS:
- Points position: 1st
- Last three races: 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas, 36th at Darlington.
- Texas Past: Career Best – 4th
Elliott returned to first place after Saturday’s run in Bristol with a second-place finish. Texas isn’t one of his best tracks, but he finished seventh in that race a year ago, despite starting from behind due to numerous bad checks.
- Points position: 2nd
- Last three races: 27th at Bristol, 17th at Kansas, 4th at Darlington.
- Past in Texas: Won in April 2014, finished in the top 10 three times in the last four races.
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Logano will be the favorite to reach the 1/8 finals, but since the beginning of June he has not won a single race. At Texas, he’s been in the top 10 nine times in his last 11 races.
- Points position: 3rd
- Last three races: 6th at Bristol, 7th at Kansas, 20th at Darlington.
- Past in Texas: Best of five career starts – 18th
Chastain is third in the playoff standings, but he has a tough job ahead of him in Texas, on a track where he has never led. A year ago, he finished 28th at TMS after crashing on lap 31.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
- Points position: 12th
- Last three races: 20th at Bristol, 12th at Kansas, 16th at Darlington.
- Past in Texas: First Cup Race at TMS. Had one win and six fives in the eighth Xfinity start.
The lone playoff rookie has not won since entering the winning streak at the Daytona 500 season opener. He squeezed into the Round of 16 in last position and seven points behind the cut line.
- Points position: 8th
- Last three races: 30th at Bristol, 9th at Kansas, 13th at Darlington.
- Past in Texas: Career best in Texas Points Race – 2nd in 2018. He won the all-star race there in May.
Will Blaney be able to continue the magic that is not about winning races, but about chasing the championship? He has never won a Texas Cup points race, but has finished eighth or better seven times in his last eight races.
- Points position: 6th
- Last three races: 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas, 2nd at Darlington.
- Past in Texas: 3 wins
A top 10 in all three races in the first round of the playoffs puts Hamlin in the running for another shot at what will be his first cup title. He has a good track record in TMS.
Over the past two years, Charles “Red” Farmer has been ill with COVID-19. Twice.
He underwent heart surgery. Twice.
He has pneumonia. Double pneumonia.
However, the biggest news about Farmer only happened last week.
He won the race.
Yes, Farmer, who turns 90 on October 15, won a 10-lap race at the Talladega Short Track, a 1/3-mile dirt track located near the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
Farmer is often on the track. That is, he was until health problems limited his participation in racing for the past two years. Some thought heart and breathing problems might finally sideline Farmer, who has won more than 700 short track speeds and whose long record in the sport earned him an induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2021.
Those who thought so did not know Farmer well.
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“He has a gene that no one else has,” Donnie Ellison, Farmer’s longtime friend and Alabama gang member, told NBC Sports. âWhatever drives him, Iâm glad he has it. I believe that if he stops doing what he is doing, he may die.â
On Wednesday, Farmer was hard at work in his store, but stopped – somewhat reluctantly – to talk about his latest success.
“I started from pole, went into turn 1 and came out of turn 2 leading,” he told NBC Sports. âThen I took off from the field. The car was very good, connected all the time.â
Farmer talks about his racing like he’s 29, not 89. His age is hardly mentioned, except when he is confronted with the reality that health problems sometimes accompany him.
âI spoke to him a week before he won the race,â Ellison said. âWe were in his shop and all he could talk about was his new car. He expected to succeed in this.”
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Farmer plans to return to competition at the Talladega dirt track for three races over the next month.
âI was ill for two years and now I have very severe shortness of breath,â he said. âI was able to run some hot laps, but until recently I couldn’t race. A couple of months ago I tried to race in the heat and almost died without getting out of the car. I was so out of breath. But my doctors have changed my medication a bit in an attempt to strengthen my heart.
âAfter I won the race and went through the scale, I was panting a little, but not at all like before.â
Farmer, who has raced with a NASCAR license since 1953, said that after winning the race, he realized that his breathing problems would prevent him from completing the feature. He started outside the front row and fell out of bounds on the tempo lap.
âI missed the field,â he said. âI ran a few laps to get gas money and then I went out and watched my two grandchildren race.â
The short track plans to celebrate Farmer’s 90th birthday with the Red Farmer 90th Birthday Bash on October 15th.
“I’m hoping to race one of these weekends,” said Farmer. “I just have to play by ear.”
He has already made it to the January Ice Bowl, which kicks off the Talladega short track season, according to his schedule.
Ellison, 82, said he remains impressed with Farmer’s determination to run the next lap.
“He’s trying to regain his strength,” Allison said. âIt’s amazing, even when I know him, to see him do what he does. I’m much younger and much stronger, and it will be difficult for me to do that.”
The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will take place this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, hosting the season’s first points race.
The Texas Race (3:30 pm ET, Sunday, USA Network) is the first of three races in the Round of 16. It will be followed by competitions at Talladega Superspeedway (October 2) and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (October 9).
Chris Buescher won Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, becoming the third non-playoff driver to win the playoffs.
Three cool teams
Three teams account for nine of the remaining 12 drivers in the cup race.
Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske and Trackhouse Racing sent all their drivers to the second round.
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