Take a look at the winners and losers of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway:
Chase Elliott — After a tough race in Texas, Elliot returned to being the championship favorite on Sunday with a win. He is ahead of Charlotte on points and, thanks to Sunday’s victory, gets into the 1/8 finals.
MORE: Talladega Cup Results
MORE: Talladega Cup Drivers’ Points
Ryan Blaney “Despite another tough day of racing and second place in a race he could have won, Blaney remains in good shape in the playoffs, even without points. He is second in points behind Elliot, only two behind.
Danny Hamlin “Hamlin took a break from working on his Next Gen car to have a great race. He led 20 laps, finished fifth and is the only driver to finish in the top ten in all five playoff races. He finished in points to fourth.
Christopher Bell – Bell ran into pit road at too high a speed during a round of pit stops and braked, earning a speeding ticket. He is 11th in points.
Kyle Larson On Sunday, Larson led eight laps, but did not make the leaderboard at the finish line. He was 18th and dropped three places in points to sixth.
Joey Logano — Logano was in the lead in Sunday’s race. At the end of the day, he was ranked 27th and dropped four spots to fifth.
TALLADEGA, Alabama. It is dangerous to predict what will happen next in these play-offs in a Cup season unlike any other.
So keep that in mind, but Chase Elliott’s win at Talladega brings him one step closer to returning to the title race for the third straight season.
It’s easy to overlook that Elliott not only earned a place in the 8th round with his victory on Sunday, but also scored six points in the playoffs. This gives him 46 playoff points. He has an opportunity to score another seven points in the playoffs this weekend at the Charlotte Roval – a tournament he has won twice – before the next round begins.
At the end of the current round, points will be reset to 4000 for each of the remaining playoff drivers and their playoff points will be added to them.
By this point, Elliot will be 21 points ahead of his nearest competitor and 31 points ahead of the first driver beyond the point of transition to the championship race.
The next round starts in Las Vegas, goes through Homestead and ends in Martinsville.
The key for Elliott, however, is how he started each of the first two rounds. The crash resulted in a 36th seed in the first round of the playoffs at Darlington. He finished 32nd after crashing in Texas to start this round.
However, the nature of the play-offs did not affect the 2020 Cup champion.
“I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough to understand the rollercoaster that’s racing,” said Elliott, who is reaching Round 8 for the sixth straight season. “This will continue, right? You either learn to ride it on good days and bad days, or you don’t. This is only part of the deal.
“So yeah, just try to ride the wave. I had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. It’s obviously great to move on to the next round, get six more bonus points. All these things are just fantastic, we are very proud of it.
“This deal can humiliate you. We can go into round 8 and crash again like we did in the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race. I dont know. You show up prepared, do your best, and deal with it.”
Joey Logano always been someone who wants to race super speedways instead of going behind.
When asked last month about the idea of reconfiguring Texas Motor Speedway to provide super speedway-style racing like Atlanta Motor Speedway did before this season, Logano questioned the value of that type of racing.
Is this what racing fans want to see? Logano said. “Because if you look at the way people have finished ahead on these super fast tracks lately, (they) are coming in the back.
“Do you think you should be rewarded for not working? Because that’s what they do. They drive in the back, they don’t work, they don’t go there to make a good race.
“They ride in the back and capitalize on the misfortunes of other people who race ahead in an attempt to win. I don’t think this is correct. It’s not racing. I can’t get behind this.”
On Sunday at Talladega, Logano was looking to race ahead as often as possible, even after his car was damaged in an early incident, but he chose a different tack at the final restart. He restarted in 24th and fell back to 27th.
“We just break all the time, so we were like, ‘Man, we’ve got a big points lead, let’s just be smarter and not crash, and we can come out of here with a top 10 assuming they crash because they always they do it,” Logano said after the race.
“That was the only time I stayed behind, today, and they didn’t crash. We have lost some of our points lead. We still have plus 18, which is pretty decent, but the goal was to score on the stage and then fall back and wait for the crash. I hate these races. I have been beaten many times by people who do this, then I tried and it didn’t work.”
P11, stage points, no depletion for @SpireMotorsport 77 Team.
Raced all day. I hope racing fans want to see these! https://t.co/ryjAtpN5DY
— Landon Cassill (@landoncassill) October 2, 2022
Michael McDowellthird place continues its strong season.
McDowell’s finish extended his top 10 record to 12. He has finished 11th or higher five times in the last seven races.
“I’m proud of the season we had and the run we had,” McDowell said. “Everyone did a great job on the pit road, giving us position on the track when we needed it. It’s nice to be there at the end and try it, just disappointed.”
Front Row Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland finished seventh.
“Riders are greedy,” Gilliland said. “I wish I had a couple more, but it was still a really good day. We were in front for most of the day and my car handled really well, so overall there are definitely a lot of positives to take away from it.”
On Sunday, for the second time this season, both Front Row Motorsports cars finished in the top ten. They also did it on the highway in Indianapolis.
NASCAR Confirms Hendrick Motorsports Appeal of 25-Point Penalty for William Byron of Texas will take place on Thursday.
If Hendrik loses this appeal, the team may hold a hearing before the appeals officer. This session was scheduled to take place before Sunday’s elimination race at Charlotte Roval (2:00 pm EDT on NBC).
“Twenty-five points in the playoffs is a ton,” car owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday of Byron’s penalty. “I mean in the regular season, if you have a bunch of races, you can bounce back.
“I saw how other cars carefully crashed into each other. In this situation (Byron) didn’t try to spin him, but they had a tower full of people, they could put him in the back, they could do something right now, and not wait for Monday or Tuesday and then make a decision.”
Byron is 11 points below the cut line behind Talladega.