The NASCAR Round of 8 drivers have been set after the Playoffs Round of 12 ended at the Charlotte Roval. Which past champions are still in the hunt, and who has nearly a one race head-start in the points?
Which NASCAR drivers were eliminated before the Playoffs Round of 8?
Coming into the quarter-final eliminator at the Roval, the four drivers below the cutline were:
Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Alex Bowman.
Despite all that happened at the Roval, and Byron looking like a contender for the win, it was these four who were eliminated.
Joe Gibbs racer Bell and Hendrick’s Bowman never looked like getting the win they needed to progress.
Bowman’s #48 was hampered with electrical problems throughout the race, and was never a factor.
Byron looked strong at the Roval, leading for long periods of time.
However, he did not recover from a stop/go penalty for missing the back-stretch chicane.
Although he ran third late on, he could not pass Tyler Reddick or leader Kyle Larson.
The #24 spun while giving chase – ending his hopes of reaching the semi-finals for the first time.
As for Harvick, he had an eventful 750th Cup start.
First of all, he rammed new rival Chase Elliott into the wall as payback for the Bristol incident.
As Elliott hunted for revenge, Harvick crashed at Turn 1 on Lap 100, just as Elliott was about to send it up the inside…
It’s the first time the 2014 Cup champion and SHR driver has been kicked out of the Playoffs at the Round of 12 stage.
Round of 12 drivers points below the cutline
Martin Truex Jr was the final driver to squeak through – the #19 having 3,113 points.
- Kevin Harvick – 9th – 3,088 (-25)
- Christopher Bell – 10th – 3085 (-28)
- William Byron – 11th – 3,070 (-43)
- Alex Bowman – 12th – 3, 061 (-52)
Who did qualify for the Round of 8?
Denny Hamlin was already locked into the Round of 8, following his win at Las Vegas earlier in the round.
He was the only driver in possession of the luxury.
At various points, the other seven drivers all found themselves either below the cutline, or in the final transfer spot.
Larson won the race for Hendrick – his seventh win of the campaign.
The #5 overcame separate battery issues to Bowman – with Larson’s crew changing the alternator belt at one stage.
Larson will enter the semi-finals as top seed with 4,065 points – his dominance in racking up the Playoff points coming in handy.
Despite the severe damage inflicted by Harvick, Chase Elliott made it through, relatively comfortably in the end.
The #9 finished 15 points clear of the elimination zone.
Kyle Busch completes the JGR contingent.
The #18 won stage two at the Roval, and goes in to the semis as fifth seed.
Shock as Penske get all three through to Round of 8
For a team as successful in racing as Penske, it sort of sums up their season that it is a shock all three drivers advanced through to the semis.
Perhaps it was not so much of a shock that Ryan Blaney advanced as he has been the pick of the Penske shop this season.
Three wins makes 2021 Blaney’s best-ever season, but his teammates have not hit the expected heights.
Joey Logano’s only win came in the Bristol Dirt race, and Brad Keselowski’s at Talladega in spring.
They’ve not had a bad season by any stretch, and keep plugging away with them top 10s, but haven’t hit the heights in a quiet season for Ford.
Keselowski was in the biggest danger after a couple of spins, but Byron not winning and Harvick crashing out booked his spot.
NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8 drivers grid
The numbers below are after the points reset for the Round of 8, with each qualifying driver going up to 4,000 points plus their Playoff points total.
- 1. Kyle Larson – 4,065
- 2. Denny Hamlin – 4,030
- 3. Martin Truex Jr – 4,029
- 4. Ryan Blaney – 4,024
- 5. Kyle Busch – 4,023
- 6. Chase Elliott – 4,022
- 7. Joey Logano – 4,013
- 8. Brad Keselowski – 4,008
The Round of 8 kicks off this weekend with a 550bhp package race at Texas.
Another follows at Kansas before the semi-final eliminator takes place at Martinsville on Halloween.