The second round of NASCAR’s playoffs continue after a wild finish at Texas Motor Speedway that saw William Byron claim victory and secure his spot in the Round of Eight. Now NASCAR heads to Talladega for the YellaWood 500 for what is sure to be an intense race at a drafting-style track. Before we dive into Sunday’s race, let’s take a look at the playoff picture.
Playoff Picture Headed Into YellaWood 500
As mentioned above, the close to Texas was extremely chaotic. It looked like Kyle Larson locked up a win with a dominant performance before a late race caution. On a restart, Larson lost his car and wrecked while battling Bubba Wallace for the lead. Several more incidents occurred leading to William Byron eventually claiming the victory. Check out the current standings below.
- William Byron – Locked In
- Denny Hamlin – 37 Points Above Cut Line
- Chris Buescher – 22 Points Above Cut Line
- Christopher Bell – 20 Points Above Cut Line
- Martin Truex Jr. – 19 Points Above Cut Line
- Ross Chastain – 12 Points Above Cut Line
- Brad Keselowski – 8 Points Above Cut Line
- Kyle Larson – 2 Points Above Cut Line
- Bubba Wallace – 2 Points Below Cut Line
- Tyler Reddick – 3 Points Below Cut Line
- Ryan Blaney – 11 Points Below Cut Line
- Kyle Busch – 17 Points Below Cut Line
After the first race of the second round of the playoffs, three of the drivers I predicted to be eliminated in the Round of 12 are below the cut line. However, Bubba Wallace had a fantastic points day at Texas and could very well find himself in the Round of 8 after another of the tracks he does well at in Talladega.
I still think Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch are unlikely to advance but Kyle Larson in wrecking from the lead at Texas goes from advancing to in real danger of being eliminated. The former champion struggles at drafting tracks (due more to bad luck than anything) and another poor performance could very well end up making the gap insurmountable.
Either way, Talladega shapes up to be an incredibly interesting race.
A handful of drivers seem to always find success at the drafting-style tracks. Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, and Ryan Blaney all seem likely to be in contention for the win. In fact, Blaney holds two victories at Talladega.
However, odds of getting caught up in a pack wreck are just as likely – as we saw back at Daytona to close out the regular season. I’m going to sound like a broken record here but predicting winners at drafting-style tracks is damn near impossible.
With that being said, I’ll back Brad Keselowski to win what should be a wild one with help from teammate Chris Buescher.
Be sure to check out the weekend schedule below so you don’t miss any on-track action!
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Qualifying – 8:30 a.m. CT on FS2
Love’s RV Stop 250 (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) – 12:00 a.m. CT on FS1
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 3:30 p.m. CT on USA
YellaWood 500 (NASCAR Cup Series) – 1:00 p.m. CT on NBC