CONCORD, N.C. – The Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs features quite the variety of tracks as Alex Bowman, William Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson look to carry their 2022 championship quests forward.
The round opens with the 1.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway. Then, the action shifts to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, where anything can happen. The three-race stretch closes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, a 17-turn, 2.32-mile layout that utilizes the infield road course and traditional oval layouts of the North Carolina track.
"With how this round shapes up there’s a lot of emphasis on Texas (Motor Speedway) and leaving there with as many points as possible and that will be our goal, just like how we did last round," Byron said.
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Last fall’s playoff race at Texas saw Larson score the win – his third of five playoff wins on the way to the 2021 championship. Byron finished second and the organization led 93% (311 of 334) of the laps run. While that was a different car, the team has seen 1.5-mile tracks be a strong suit in the first year of the Next Gen car.
That strength was on display two weekends ago at Kansas Speedway, where all four drivers finished inside the top 11. Bowman led a race-high 107 laps and picked up his second stage win of the season en route to a team-best fourth-place result that day. Byron finished sixth, Larson placed eighth and Elliott scored significant stage points before finishing 11th.
Hendrick Motorsports has won three of the six points-paying races contested on tracks of that length this season. Bowman took the victory in the series’ first trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, while Byron and Elliott each won at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
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How has each of the drivers fared on 1.5-mile tracks this season? Let’s look at the stats.
Mar. 6 at Las Vegas: Second
Mar. 20 at Atlanta: 30th
May 5 at Kansas: Second
May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Ninth
July 10 at Atlanta: 13th
Sept. 11 at Kansas: Eighth
Average finish: 10.7 (Third-best)
Points scored: 192 (Sixth-best)
Laps led: 108 (Seventh-most)
Mar. 6 at Las Vegas: Ninth
Mar. 20 at Atlanta: Sixth
May 5 at Kansas: 29th
May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: 33rd
July 10 at Atlanta: WON
Sept. 11 at Kansas: 11th
Average finish: 14.8 (Eighth-best)
Points scored: 216 (Second-best)
Laps led: 221 (Second-most)
Mar. 6 at Las Vegas: Fifth
Mar. 20 at Atlanta: WON
May 5 at Kansas: 16th
May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: 32nd
July 10 at Atlanta: 30th
Sept. 11 at Kansas: Sixth
Average finish: 15.0 (Ninth-best)
Points scored: 187 (Seventh-best)
Laps led: 195 (Third-most)
Mar. 6 at Las Vegas: WON
Mar. 20 at Atlanta: 10th
May 5 at Kansas: Ninth
May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: 10th
July 10 at Atlanta: 32nd
Sept. 11 at Kansas: Fourth
Average finish: 11.0 (Fifth-best)
Points scored: 196 (Fourth-best)
Laps led: 123 (Sixth-most)
All four drivers are in the top seven in points scored and laps led at 1.5-mile tracks this season. The quartet are also all in the top nine in average finish on 1.5-milers. Bowman’s five top-10 finishes on this track type are tied for the most in the field with Ross Chastain, who is the leader in points scored and laps led on this track type. Larson is tied for third in top 10s with four.
Tune in to the opening race of the Round of 12 on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) to see if a Hendrick Motorsports driver can secure their spot into the Round of 8.