CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Larson’s victory in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener locked him and the No. 5 team into the Round of 12. Larson’s win was his third points-paying triumph of the season and his first Cup win at Darlington Raceway.
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Larson is the only driver locked into the next round. A win by any playoff driver automatically advances them in the playoff field.
William Byron finished in the top five and now holds the points lead. In fact, Byron and Larson rank one-two in the standings. Chase Elliott finished eighth at the South Carolina track. Elliott may not be in the driver playoffs, but the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team is in the owner playoffs. The format for that championship battle is similar to that of the driver championship.
RELATED: How the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs work
Shifting to Kansas Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has eight wins at the 1.5-mile track. Larson (2021) and Elliott (2018) each have playoff wins there. The track has also been a pretty solid spot for Byron, who finished third there in the spring.
Get the lowdown on how each of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers and teams are positioned ahead of the middle race in the Round of 16. Be sure to tune in to the race at Kansas on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
William Byron, No. 24
POINTS POSITION: First with 2,075 points.
POSITION TO ELIMINATION LINE: +45
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: Fourth at Darlington.
KANSAS OUTLOOK: Two top-five finishes, seven top-10s, a pole, 136 laps led and an 14.0 average finish in 11 starts. He has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last eight starts at Kansas, with an average finish of 7.9 in that stretch.
SPRING KANSAS RESULT: Finished third and was on the pole position.
Kyle Larson, No. 5
POINTS POSITION: Second with 2,074 points.
POSITION TO ELIMINATION LINE: Advanced to Round of 12 with a win at Darlington.
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: Won at Darlington.
KANSAS OUTLOOK: One win (October 2021), six top-five finishes, nine top-10s, 13.5 average finish and 540 laps led in 17 starts. In five starts at Kansas with Hendrick Motorsports, he has three top-two finishes, a streak of four top-eight runs and has led 376 laps.
SPRING KANSAS RESULT: Finished second – leading a race-high 85 laps and led coming to the white flag before last-lap contact with eventual race winner Denny Hamlin.
No. 9 team
POINTS POSITION: 11th in the owner playoffs with 2,034 points.
POSITION TO ELIMINATION LINE: +3
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: Eighth at Darlington
KANSAS OUTLOOK: Elliott has one win (October 2018), six top-five finishes, nine top-10s, an average finish of 10.9 and 202 laps led in 15 starts. In seven of his last 10 starts at the 1.5-mile track, he has finished inside the top 10.
SPRING KANSAS RESULT: Finished seventh.
OVERALL DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE
1-Byron: 2,075 points
2-Larson: 2,074 points (LOCKED IN TO THE ROUND OF 12)
3-Tyler Reddick: 2,060 points
4-Chris Buescher: 2,057 points
5-Denny Hamlin: 2,057 points
6-Martin Truex Jr.: 2,055 points
7-Kyle Busch: 2,050 points
8-Brad Keselowski: 2,048 points
9-Ryan Blaney: 2,046 points
10-Ross Chastain: 2,043 points
11-Joey Logano: 2,033 points
12-Christopher Bell: 2,031 points
13-Bubba Wallace: 2,030 points
14-Kevin Harvick: 2,029 points
15-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 2,027 points
16-Michael McDowell: 2,012 points
OVERALL OWNER CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE
1-No. 24 team: 2,075 points
2-No. 5 team: 2,074 points (LOCKED IN TO THE ROUND OF 12)
3-No. 45 team: 2,060 points
4-No. 17 team: 2,057 points
5-No. 11 team: 2,057 points
6-No. 19 team: 2,055 points
7-No. 8 team: 2,050 points
8-No. 6 team: 2,048 points
9-No. 12 team: 2,046 points
10-No. 1 team: 2,043 points
11-No. 9 team: 2,034 points
12-No. 22 team: 2,033 points
13-No. 20 team: 2,031 points
14-No. 4 team: 2,029 points
15-No. 47 team: 2,027 points
16-No. 34 team: 2,012 points