William Byron only led for five laps on Sunday. But they were the five most important ones.
Byron punched his ticket to the Round of 8, emerging victorious in a race littered with cautions. Bubba Wallace started on the pole and led for most of the race before being passed by Kyle Larson, who held the lead until late in the final stage when he wrecked out.
The No. 24 car had been running around the top of the field for most of the race and had been solid in the playoffs. He boasts a field-best six wins, and Sunday’s is his first since Watkins Glen in August. Still, his 15th-place finish at Kansas is his only non-Top 10 finish since Indianapolis.
The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs continue next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and Oct. 8 with the Charlotte Roval. Here’s how Sunday’s results impacted some playoff drivers’ standings:
The two-time Cup champion started the day sixth in the playoff standings, eight points above the cut line. He’s now on the bubble.
Late in Stage 1, Busch thought he may have had a problem with his car, he said on his radio, but decided to try and finish off that opening stage. He didn’t make it, spinning out on a turn with six laps left in the stage.
“Seems like every time I try, something happens,” Busch told NBC Sports after he was eliminated from the race. “I don’t know what to do. If somebody wants to tell me what to do, I’m all ears.”
Busch now sits 12th out of as many drivers in the playoff standings, well below the cut line.
Hamlin hung around the top of the field for most of the race, once again, though he never led.
The driver of the No. 11 Toyota moves to the top of the playoff standings, after previously finishing 25th at Darlington, second at Kansas and winning at Bristol.
Larson was 20 laps away from his fourth victory of the season. The No. 5 car passed pole-sitter Bubba Wallace during Stage 2 and carried a commanding lead for 95 laps.
After a restart late in the final stage, Wallace, who’d been running around fifth place, caught Larson, and the two started running door-to-door.
Larson tried to take the inside lane on a turn but spun out, suddenly ending the No. 5 car’s chances in what was shaping up to be a dominant victory.
Reddick escaped a caution-filled Stage 1 victorious on Sunday, but that may have been the No. 45 car’s only highlight.
He continued running toward the middle of the pack after that, but ended up being the beneficiary of some bad luck. Just after he pitted early in the final stage, Daniel Suarez spun out into the grass.
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex’s bad luck in the playoffs this year continued. He spun out and wrecked after being hit by Brad Keselowski, whose back Erik Jones had just run into, in Lap 80 at the end of Stage 1.
This comes two weeks after Truex, the regular-season champion and No. 2 seed entering the playoffs, blew out a tire in Lap 4 at Kansas.
The pole-sitter for the first time this season and second in his career, Wallace led for 69 of the 80 laps in Stage 1 but ultimately lost the stage to Kyle Larson.
He continued running toward the top of the field throughout the race. His No. 23 Toyota led for 93 laps, a career-high for Wallace, but none of those came during the final stage. Kyle Larson passed him during Stage 2 and didn’t look back.
Round of 12 standings
Martin Truex Jr.