NASCAR Playoff Spots Still Open After Kyle Larson Wins at Homestead

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Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, FL — October 23, 2022

The Dixie Vodka 400 NASCAR Cup Series playoff race from Homestead-Miami Speedway, will likely clarify the status of the seven drivers still looking for a place in the Championship Four in two weeks at Phoenix. The only thing certain at this point is that Joey Logano will be one of the four. Almost as certain is that Christopher Bell will have to repeat his magic from two weeks ago at the Charlotte Roval and pull out a win to advance.

Denny Hamlin is on the bubble, just six points ahead of William Byron. One driver will qualify on points. A win today, by any of the seven, or next week at Martinsville will lock in a spot for the victorious driver.

Ross Chastain, in second place, only holds a 24-point margin over Byron. Stage points today will be critical.

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Car # +/- Cutoff
1 Joey Logano* 4,084 3 6 26 22 In On Wins
2 Ross Chastain 4,063 2 6 21 1 18
3 Chase Elliott 4,062 5 6 46 9 17
4 Denny Hamlin 4,051 2 3 13 11 6
5 William Byron 4,045 2 4 15 24 -6
6 Chase Briscoe* 4,042 1 4 9 14 -9
7 Ryan Blaney* 4,040 0 8 15 12 -11
8 Christopher Bell 4,028 2 4 18 20 -23

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Latest From NASCAR

NASCAR did not shy away from addressing the Bubba Wallace/Kyle Larson incident last week in Las Vegas. For intentionally wrecking Larson, after contact between the two racing for position, Wallace was suspended for one week, and John Hunter Nemechek will take over his ride today.

Wallace was also disciplined by his race team, 23XI Racing. Details were not released. The incident cost Bell dearly as he was involved in the collision and eliminated from the race.

Today’s Race

Byron starts on the pole today, he won here when the Cup Series visited back in February. Bell lines up next to him in the front row. Ross Chastain starts in 20th, the lowest position of the eight remaining playoff drivers.

It takes 267 laps to comprise the 400.5-mile distance to be run today around the 1.5-mile speedway. Stages are 80/85/102 laps.

Stage One

The first Stage of the race was a two-car battle between William Byron(24) and Kyle Larson(5). Byron led early, staying out front for the first 26 laps. A spin by John Hunter Nemechek(45) brought the race under caution and allowed everyone to pit for tires, fuel, and adjustments.

Larson’s crew found the magic combination that allowed him to dominate the latter half of the Stage. Byron led 32 laps, while Larson led 48. Including the one that provided 10 Stage points and prevented Byron from capturing another playoff point for a Stage win.

Tyler Reddick(8) joined the battle at the front of the pack. However, his car’s handling seemed to go away late in the run. Martin Truex Jr.(19) squeezed by for the third spot in the first Stage.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 5 Kyle Larson (P) 10
2 24 William Byron (P) 9
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 8
4 8 Tyler Reddick 7
5 3 Austin Dillon 6
6 16 AJ Allmendinger 5
7 6 Brad Keselowski* 4
8 9 Chase Elliott (P) 3
9 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 2
10 22 Joey Logano* (P) 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers   (P) Playoff Drivers

Stage Two

No surprise. Larson and Byron were the first two drivers off the pit road and will start side-by-side on the front row. After a lap fighting for the top position, Larson prevailed.

Larson pulled out to a slight advantage as Truex pestered Byron, finally making the pass for the second spot. Ryan Blaney(12) and Chase Elliott(9) rounded out the top five.

Green flag pit stops began at the halfway point of the Stage. An error-free stop is important to maintaining track position. The leaders performed flawlessly. Brad Keselowski(6) was able to steal the fifth spot away from Elliott as his crew earned him an upgrade of one position.

Chase Briscoe(14) hit the wall with the right front of his race car, off of turn two. The accident brought out the caution with four laps to go in the Stage. The damage forced Briscoe to retire his car to the garage and will put him in a must-win situation heading to the final race of the round of eight in Martinsville.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 5 Kyle Larson (P) 10
2 19 Martin Truex Jr. 9
3 24 William Byron (P) 8
4 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 7
5 6 Brad Keselowski* 6
6 9 Chase Elliott (P) 5
7 99 Daniel Suarez 4
8 1 Ross Chastain 3
9 22 Joey Logano* (P) 2
10 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers   (P) Playoff Drivers

The Final Stage

With minimal passes for the lead, track position is critical, and the leaders drove hard on the restart to establish a position that would give them a shot at the win. Larson held the lead, but some shuffling occurred in the top five.

Blaney took over second, Truex ran third, Elliott, and Hamlin finished out the top five.

Larson consistently built his advantage as none of the other leaders could hang with the #5 car. Byron started the run of green flag pit stops coming in for service with 60 laps to go. His crew had trouble with the left front tire. It was not properly secured, and Byron had to back up into his pit box to have the problem corrected. He then stalled the car, costing more time in the pits.

Blaney had trouble exiting the pits, spinning his car on the access road leading back to the racing surface.  The incident brought out the caution allowing the remainder of the leaders to come in for service under the yellow.

Truex and Chastain were on pit road when the yellow came out. They did not lose a lap, as the field was forced to slow down when the caution flag was displayed. They brought the field back to the green flag with 51 laps to go. Hamlin dove to the bottom of the track, making it three-wide into turn one. Hamlin took over the top spot.

Truex made his presence felt at the front of the pack, passing his teammate Hamlin for the lead. Chastain then returned to the second position as Hamlin could not hold the advantage he gained by surprise at the drop of the green.

Larson then worked his way around Hamlin and set out to run down the two cars in front of him. He was almost three seconds behind the pair out front. However, Larson was running laps three to four-tenths of a second faster than the lead duo.

With 32 laps to go, Larson easily passed Chastain to take over second. With 25 laps to go, Larson cut the interval to 1.544 seconds. With 23 to go, Tyler Reddick(8) wrecked when he lost control off turn two. Extensive damage sent his car to the garage, and Reddick went to the infield car center to be checked after the hard hit.

The leaders pitted under caution, and the complexion of the whole race changed between the leaders. With the sun in the eyes of the drivers coming down the pit road, it appeared Truex was going to miss his pit stall and was late turning left. Larson hit Truex in the rear and actually spun him backwards into his pit stall.

Larson came out of the pits with the lead, and Truex restarted 19th, out of contention for the win.

The Finish

A wild scramble at the front of the pack saw Larson pull away with the lead. Chastain and AJ Allmendinger(16) swapped the second position as the laps wound down. They were on Larson’s when the battle began, but as they raced each other, Larson pulled away for the win.

As Larson was eliminated during the last round of the playoffs, his win means at least two drivers will advance to the Championship Four on points alone. Larson led 199 of the 267 laps run.

Playoff Standings

Rank Car Driver Points Status
1 22 Joey Logano* 4106 In Win
2 1 Ross Chastain 4101 +19
3 9 Chase Elliott 4093 +11
4 24 William Byron 4087 +5
5 11 Denny Hamlin 4082 -5
6 12 Ryan Blaney* 4069 -18
7 20 Christopher Bell 4054 -33
8 14 Chase Briscoe* 4043 -44

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe will need a win at Martinsville to Advance. Ryan Blaney may fall into that category if he cannot gain sufficient Stage points next week to help erase the deficit. Barring a complete collapse, Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott are in a position to advance. The final spot likely is to be a fight between William Byron and Denny Hamlin.

Results of the Dixie Vodka 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 5 Kyle Larson (P) 267
2 1 Ross Chastain (P) 1.261 267
3 16 AJ Allmendinger 1.362 267
4 3 Austin Dillon 2.671 267
5 6 Brad Keselowski 3.739 267
6 19 Martin Truex Jr. 4.203 267
7 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 4.429 267
8 4 Kevin Harvick 5.107 267
9 18 Kyle Busch 5.372 267
10 99 Daniel Suarez 5.694 267
11 20 Christopher Bell (P) 6.859 267
12 24 William Byron (P) 7.941 267
13 17 Chris Buescher 9.117 267
14 9 Chase Elliott (P) 9.408 267
15 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 9.570 267
16 34 Michael McDowell 9.580 267
17 12 Ryan Blaney (P) 10.099 267
18 22 Joey Logano (P) 10.529 267
19 2 Austin Cindric 12.598 267
20 21 Harrison Burton 12.665 267
21 10 Aric Almirola 24.928 267
22 23 Ty Gibbs 25.412 267
23 7 Corey LaJoie 29.077 267
24 41 Cole Custer -1 266
25 48 Noah Gragson -1 266
26 42 Ty Dillon -1 266
27 45 John Hunter Nemechek -1 266
28 31 Justin Haley -1 266
29 77 Landon Cassill -1 266
30 43 Erik Jones -3 264
31 38 Todd Gilliland -3 264
32 15 JJ Yeley -4 263
33 78 BJ McLeod -5 262
34 51 Cody Ware -5 262
35 8 Tyler Reddick -25 242
36 14 Chase Briscoe (P) -107 160