CONCORD, N.C. – The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Lone Star State for the fourth race in the 2022 playoffs at Texas Motor Speedway. All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers remain in contention for the championship as the Round of 12 kicks off this weekend.
Texas’ history as a Cup Series track dates all the way back to 1997. Since then, the tour has completed 41 points-paying events on the 1.5-mile circuit as well as two All-Star Race events in 2021 and 2022. The track’s original design of a quad-oval mirrors that of Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s design. In 2017, the track was reconfigured to reduce banking in turns one and two, taking it down from 24 degrees to 20 degrees. The racing surface in the opening two corners was also increased from 60 feet wide to 80 feet wide. The changes have resulted in different setups as each end of the racetrack provides a unique challenge to drivers and their cars.
Last season’s playoff event at Texas saw Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron finish one-two in the running order. By the end of the day, these two drivers had combined to lead 93% of the race, pacing the field for 311 out of the 334 laps. In the end, Larson nabbed his first Texas win and scored his third of five playoff wins en route to the championship. The 30-year-old has four total top fives and five top 10s in 14 starts at the venue.
Although Byron did not take home the win, the second-place finish was one of his strongest runs of the year. Historically, the Charlotte, North Carolina native has had success at Texas with his first career top-10 finish coming at the 1.5-mile circuit - that is one of three top 10s that Byron has there. The 24-year-old enters this weekend as one of three drivers - Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin are the others - to score top-10 finishes in each of the Round of 16 races.
RELATED: How Hendrick Motorsports' playoff drivers stack up heading to Texas
Chase Elliott finished seventh in last year's lone points-paying event at the Fort Worth, Texas, facility. Despite not having the pace of the front runners, the solid top-10 run aided Elliott’s hopes of advancing to the Championship 4. With the momentum built from this performance, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native would eventually advance into his second-ever Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. In 11 starts at Texas, the regular-season champion has two top fives and six top 10s.
Alex Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 got collected in a multi-car accident early in last year's race. The 29-year-old driver has earned two top-five finishes in his last four starts at Texas.
Following last weekend’s cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the points have been reset for the Round of 12. Elliott (+31), Larson (+10), and Byron (+6) all start the round above the cutoff line. While Bowman (-6) is just below in 10th place, he may not be under the elimination line for long. He already has a win on a 1.5-mile track this season (at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March) and he has earned the fourth-most points on that track type this season.
In fact, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the top seven in points earned in the six 1.5-mile tracks this season. Elliott ranks second, Bowman is fourth, Larson is sixth and Byron comes in seventh. In addition, Elliott and Byron each won in 2022 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.54-mile layout.
Historically, Hendrick Motorsports has excelled at the 1.5-mile circuit located in Texas. The organization has the most victories (10), most top-five finishes (42), most top-10 finishes (75), and most laps led (2,822) in the Cup Series. The team also has the most wins (six) in the 17 playoff races hosted at the facility.
RELATED: Inside the numbers of Hendrick Motorsports' 1.5-mile strength
Here is what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action.
WHAT TIME IS PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING?
Cup Series group practice will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12:35 p.m. ET with coverage on USA Network. Group qualifying will follow practice and begin at 1:20 p.m. ET and will also be on USA Network.
Larson is in Group A, while Bowman, Byron and Elliott will all be part of Group B.
WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?
The 500-mile Cup Series main event is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 25, and will be broadcast on USA Network.
CAN I LISTEN ON THE RADIO?
The race will be on PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
CAN I STREAM ONLINE?
FIVE FAST FACTS HEADING INTO TEXAS
Data provided by Racing Insights
3: Larson is one of three drivers in Cup Series history to win the Texas playoff race and capture the championship in the same season as he did so in 2021. Jimmie Johnson is the only other Hendrick Motorsports driver to accomplish this feat, winning the Texas playoff race and the championship in 2007 and 2013. Tony Stewart achieved this mark in 2011 as well.
5: Top-10 finishes from Bowman on 1.5-mile tracks this season. The driver of the No. 48 is tied with Ross Chastain for the most in the field on circuits of this length in 2022.
7: Top-two finishes for Elliott in 2022. The 26-year-old driver leads the Cup Series in this category and is attempting to break his career high of nine top-two finishes (in 2021) in a single season.
10.821: The average four-tire pit stop time from Byron’s crew in the playoffs. This mark is the third-best of anyone in the field and the highest of any driver still eligible to win the 2022 championship.
31: Top-five finishes for Hendrick Motorsports in 2022. The organization leads the Cup Series in this category.