CONCORD, N.C. – The first round of the playoffs come to a close this Sunday, and four drivers will be eliminated once the checkered flag waves, trimming the 16-driver field to 12.
Two drivers have already clinched their spots in the next round by winning in this round – Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch. Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski will also advance to the next round due to their cushion in the points standing.
That leaves eight positions in the Round of 12 up for grabs as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson is the highest ranked Hendrick Motorsports teammate in seventh entering this weekend. He sits 32 points above the cutoff line – the 13th-place driver, which would be the first to be eliminated.
He would clinch his spot in the next round by scoring 24 points Sunday at Dover.
Next is Chase Elliott, six points behind Johnson in ninth and 26 points ahead of 13th place. He would guarantee a berth into the Round of 12 by scoring 30 points.
Kasey Kahne enters the final race of the first round in 16th place, but he sits just 21 points behind the 12th-place driver, which marks the cutoff to advance. His only guaranteed entry into the next round without any help is to race his way to Victory Lane.
Sunday’s race is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.