Where Cup playoff drivers stand heading to Talladega


Cup drivers are about to enter the unknown.

Or as most call it … Talladega Superspeedway. Drivers know that they are as likely to be in a crash as to finish Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“There’s going to be carnage like there always is,” said William Byron, who holds the final transfer spot to the next round by a tiebreaker. “It’s probably going to be more than normal though with how fast we’re going.”

Of course, no one knows who will make it out of Talladega unscathed and who might see their title hopes diminish.

Talladega doesn’t care where a driver enters its playoff race in the standings. In 2014, Kyle Busch entered second in points, ran in the back to be safe yet was still in a wreck and failed to advance to the next round back when Talladega was an elimination race.

So yes, anything can happen.

Here’s where things stand for drivers entering the middle race of the Round of 12:



Are you kidding? Other than Kyle Larson, whose Dover win put him into the next round, no one is safe regardless of their standing in the points. Everyone will be on edge this weekend. There are just degrees of feeling good.



Martin Truex Jr. is 63 points — more than a full race — ahead of Joey Logano, the first driver outside a transfer spot. So Truex knows he won’t fall out of a transfer spot heading into the round’s elimination race at Kansas the following weekend.



Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are both 48 points ahead of Logano.

Wouldn’t you know there’s a way to tie Logano and Hamlin, who expressed his displeasure with how Logano raced him late in stage 2 at Dover while Logano was more than 20 laps down and Hamlin was trying to stay in the lead to win the stage. Instead, Hamlin lost the stage and a playoff point and then lost control of the race and a chance to win.

As for Busch, he’s made it clear he didn’t like the racing at Dover in May and also wasn’t pleased with his car’s performance there. Busch was never a factor at Dover last weekend but scored a sixth-place finish despite a speeding penalty. It helped that so many other playoff drivers had problems and Busch took advantage.



Kevin Harvick is 42 points ahead of Logano. Harvick is in a good spot. Or at least seems to be. Everything can change in a moment at Talladega.



Brad Keselowski is sixth in the standings, 20 points ahead of Logano. Alex Bowman is seventh in the standings, 17 points ahead of Logano.

Keselowski is one of the sport’s premier racers at Talladega, having won there three times since 2014, matching teammate Joey Logano’s total in the same period. Bowman finished second at Talladega in May.



William Byron, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. Byron holds the final transfer spot via a tiebreaker on Logano. Any of these drivers could win and change the dynamics heading into the elimination race at Kansas. Elliott won there in April.



3095 – Martin Truex Jr.

3080 – Denny Hamlin

3080 – Kyle Busch

3074 – Kevin Harvick

3063 – Kyle Larson (Dover win moves him to next round)

3052 – Brad Keselowski

3049 – Alex Bowman

3032 – William Byron

3032 – Joey Logano

3028 – Clint Bowyer

3025 – Chase Elliott

3010 – Ryan Blaney



NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.