CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Larson followed up his playoff-opening win at Darlington Raceway with a fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway. He now holds the points lead with one race remaining in the Round of 16. Larson’s Darlington win locked him into the next round. A win by any playoff driver automatically advances them in the playoff field.
William Byron finished 15th at Kansas, but is in a good spot to advance to the next round. Chase Elliott took home a sixth-place run, which helped to boost the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team’s position in the owner playoffs. The format for that championship battle is similar to that of the driver championship.
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Shifting to Bristol Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 wins at the 0.533-mile track. Larson (2021) is the only active driver on the team with a points win there. Elliott did score a victory in Thunder Valley in the 2020 All-Star Race – the only time the short track hosted the exhibition event.
Get the lowdown on how each of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers and teams are positioned ahead of the final race in the Round of 16. Be sure to tune in to catch the action from Bristol on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
Kyle Larson, No. 5
POINTS POSITION: First with 2,117 points.
POSITION TO ELIMINATION LINE: Advanced to the Round of 12 with a win at Darlington.
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: Fourth at Kansas.
BRISTOL OUTLOOK: In 14 starts at Bristol, Larson has one win (2021), four top-five finishes, nine top-10s, two poles, 850 laps led and an average finish of 12.8. In fact, his 850 laps led at the Tennessee track are his second-most of any on the schedule. Over the last eight races at Bristol, the 31-year-old driver has one win, four top-five finishes, seven top-10s, an average finish of 6.25 and 760 laps led.
LAST FALL’S BRISTOL RESULT: Finished fifth.
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William Byron, No. 24
POINTS POSITION: Fourth with 2,097 points.
POSITION TO ELIMINATION LINE: +41
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: 15th at Kansas.
BRISTOL OUTLOOK: Byron has two top-five finishes and three top-10s in eight starts. All of his top fives and top 10s have come in the last four races. Interestingly enough, both races with crew chief Rudy Fugle have resulted in third-place finishes.
LAST FALL’S BRISTOL RESULT: Finished third.
No. 9 team
POINTS POSITION: Eighth in the owner playoffs with 2,075 points.
POSITION TO ELIMINATION LINE: +12
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: Sixth at Kansas.
BRISTOL OUTLOOK: Elliott has four top-five finishes, six top-10s, one pole, 439 laps led and an average finish of 12.3. It is the track where the 27-year-old has his most laps led without a win. He has fared better in late summer races with three of his top fives, four of his top 10s and 313 of his laps led coming in that event. In six of his last seven Bristol starts, Elliott has led at least 23 laps.
LAST FALL’S BRISTOL RESULT: Finished second
OVERALL DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE
1-Larson: 2,117 points (LOCKED INTO ROUND OF 12)
2-Tyler Reddick: 2,111 points (LOCKED INTO ROUND OF 12)
3-Denny Hamlin: 2,105 points
4-Byron: 2,097 points
5-Brad Keselowski: 2,089 points
6-Ryan Blaney: 2,081 points
7-Kyle Busch: 2,080 points
8-Ross Chastain: 2,074 points
9-Chris Buescher: 2,069 points
10-Christopher Bell: 2,069 points
11-Joey Logano: 2,063 points
12-Kevin Harvick: 2,063 points
13-Martin Truex Jr.: 2,056 points
14-Bubba Wallace: 2,044 points
15-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 2,041 points
16-Michael McDowell: 2,023 points
OVERALL OWNER CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE
1-No. 5 team: 2,117 points (LOCKED INTO ROUND OF 12)
2-No. 45 team: 2,111 points (LOCKED INTO ROUND OF 12)
3-No. 11 team: 2,105 points
4-No. 24 team: 2,097 points
5-No. 6 team: 2,089 points
6-No. 12 team: 2,081 points
7-No. 8 team: 2,080 points
8-No. 9 team: 2,075 points
9-No. 1 team: 2,074 points
10-No. 17 team: 2,069 points
11-No. 20 team: 2,069 points
12-No. 22 team: 2,068 points
13-No. 4 team: 2,063 points
14-No. 19 team: 2,056 points
15-No. 47 team: 2,041 points
16-No. 34 team: 2,023 points