With stretch run of normal season approaching, alternatives abound

CONCORD, NC – The NASCAR Cup Sequence off weekend serves as a de facto midseason break and an opportunity to take inventory of the place issues stand following 16 of 36 points-paying races in 2022. The common season is almost two-thirds full with simply 10 races remaining earlier than the playoffs start at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 4.

The four-car crew noticed all of its drivers win inside the first 11 races of the 12 months – the quickest that a complete four-driver crew has received within the Cup Sequence. Chase Elliott holds the factors lead and with that might come a 15-point bonus for the highest spot within the common season standings. William Byron is one among 4 drivers to submit two wins on the season. Kyle Larson has seemingly been knocking on the door of win No. 2 in 2022 during the last month and Alex Bowman’s consistency ought to have him positioned for extra pictures at successful within the coming weeks.

What has transpired to date? The place do issues stand from a playoff perspective? And what alternatives are there for the quartet of Hendrick Motorsports drivers because the common season enters the house stretch?

Editor’s notice: The projected playoff level complete accounts for any race wins and stage wins already earned in addition to the present place a driver has within the common season standings (and any subsequent playoff factors awarded from that for a driver that’s within the prime 10 of these standings ). The motive force that’s first within the level standings on the finish of the common season receives 15 playoff factors, second place earns 10 playoff factors, third place earns eight playoff factors, fourth place earns seven playoff factors and it’s a sliding scale right down to the tenth place within the closing common season standings incomes one playoff level.

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Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet crew

Common season standings rank: First
Wins in 2022: One (Dover Motor Speedway)
High fives in 2022: Three
High 10s in 2022: 10
Laps led: 471
Projected playoff level complete (rank): 2,023 factors (second) if playoffs began right this moment

Elliott’s three main alternatives in the rest of a daily season:

1-Street programs. It is no secret that Elliott is an ace in terms of this model of racing. He has seven of his 14 Cup wins thus far on that observe sort. Three of the subsequent 9 races are at highway programs: Street America (July 3), Indianapolis Motor Speedway Street Course (July 31) and Watkins Glen Worldwide (Aug. 21). Elliott is the defending race winner at Street America. With two wins and three straight top-two finishes, Watkins Glen stands as one among his finest tracks interval. He additionally completed fourth within the first highway race at Indianapolis in 2021.

2-Michigan Worldwide Speedway. Elliott has not but received on the observe within the Irish Hills however primarily based on common end (7.7), it stands as his finest non-road course venue on the circuit. He has three runner-up finishes and 10 prime 10s in 11 begins on the two-mile observe. In final 12 months’s race, he led 68 laps – his most on the facility.

3-Sustaining the common season factors lead. Elliott’s been constant this season with probably the most stage factors (136), the second-most laps led (471), the second-most prime 10s (10) and the third-best common end (12.6). With a view to maintain on to that prime spot, he’ll want to show a few of these prime 10s into prime fives – of which he solely has three. The 15 playoff factors for the common season champion are an enormous boon heading into the playoffs and the drop if he slips to the second could be simply 10 playoff factors awarded. These 5 playoff factors, basically an additional win, may imply the distinction in advancing or not advancing within the postseason.

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Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet crew

Common season standings rank: Seventh
Wins in 2022: One (Auto Membership Speedway)
High fives in 2022: Six
High 10s in 2022: Eight
Laps led: 273
Projected playoff level complete (rank): 2,011 factors (seventh) if playoffs began right this moment

Larson’s three main alternatives in the rest of a daily season:

1-Nashville Superspeedway. Larson is the defending race winner on the subsequent observe on the schedule (June 26). He dominated the Ally 400 final 12 months, main 264 of the 300 laps en path to the victory. Concrete surfaces have been robust for Hendrick Motorsports of late with 4 straight wins on that sort of observe. The motive force of the No. 5 has been knocking on the door of win No. 2 in 2022 for a number of weeks as he led late at Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. As well as, he has led not less than 19 laps in seven of the final eight races. Cliff Daniels will not be on the field for this race in addition to the next three races (Street America, Atlanta Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway) however simply to notice, Denny Hamlin received together with his fill-in crew chief at Charlotte final month.

2-Street programs. Final season noticed Larson win three of the seven highway programs. He’s the defending race winner at Watkins Glen and has scored three straight top-eight outcomes on the upstate New York observe. He earned a top-five end at Indianapolis as nicely. The pace was there at Sonoma Raceway as he led 26 laps from the pole for his second stage win of the 12 months. As we famous with Elliott, three of the subsequent 9 races are on highway programs, so there’s a main alternative there.

3- Michigan. The 29-year-old has strong numbers at Pocono Raceway too, with two top-five finishes and a ninth-place outcome after he minimize a tire heading into the ultimate nook in his final three runs there. But, on the two-mile observe that can be run on Aug. 7, Larson has received thrice throughout his Chip Ganassi Racing days. He completed third at this observe final 12 months and led 70 laps in his second straight third-place outcome on the venue. The Elk Grove, California, native additionally received at its sister observe, Auto Membership Speedway, earlier this 12 months.

William Byron, No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet crew

Common season standings rank: Eighth
Wins in 2022: Two (Atlanta Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway)
High fives in 2022: 4
High 10s in 2022: 5
Laps led: 570
Projected playoff level complete (rank): 2,016 factors (fourth) if the playoffs began right this moment

Byron’s three main alternatives in the rest of a daily season:

1-Atlanta. Byron received in March on the reconfigured and repaved observe so it is pure to peg him as the favourite for the return journey on July 10. He led over a 3rd of the race (111 laps) and grabbed six playoff factors with a stage win on prime of the race win. The 24-year-old additionally ran nicely with this guidelines bundle at Talladega Superspeedway in April. As an entire for the season, he has run the second-most laps inside the highest 5 (1,689) and has a knack for locating the entrance.

2-Pocono. At tracks the place he has had multiple begin, Byron’s finest common end (9.1) comes on the “Tough Triangle.” He has completed within the prime 10 in 5 of his final seven begins there and his track-best third-place outcome got here within the first race there final 12 months. With the standings positions very tight, this might additionally assist increase his spot within the common season factors battle. At this observe, the motive force of the No. 24 Chevrolet has scored not less than 30 factors in six of the final seven races there.

3-Richmond Raceway. Byron completed third right here within the spring and led 122 laps. He was on older tires than eventual race winner Denny Hamlin in April and misplaced the result in him with 5 laps to go. Total, although, the 24-year-old has seemed stout on quick tracks this season. Along with the Richmond outcome, he received at Martinsville Speedway the next week – dominating the second half of the race and holding off Joey Logano in an time beyond regulation end. Generally it simply clicks for a driver on a observe sort and that appears to be the case for the Charlotte, North Carolina, native and crew chief Rudy Fugle on quick tracks.

Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet crew

Common season standings rank: Ninth
Wins in 2022: One (Las Vegas Motor Speedway)
High fives in 2022: Three
High 10s in 2022: 9
Laps led: 18
Projected playoff level complete (rank): 2,008 factors (ninth) if the playoffs began right this moment

Bowman’s three main alternatives in the rest of a daily season:

1-Superspeedway-style racing. Bowman has posted top-10 finishes in two of the three races the place the superspeedway guidelines bundle has been utilized this season – Atlanta and Talladega. The collection is ready to return to Atlanta in three weeks on July 10. He additionally has two straight seventh-place finishes in the summertime race at Daytona Worldwide Speedway, which is able to host the regular-season finale on Aug. 27. With two of these tracks a part of the remaining 10 earlier than the playoffs, these present a strong probability for the Tucson, Arizona, native so as to add to his playoff level complete.

2-Pocono. The 29-year-old received one of many two races on the 2.5-mile observe in Pennsylvania final 12 months and the observe will host the Cup Sequence on July 24. Within the final three races there, he has two top-10 finishes to go together with his win, the third-best common end (5.7), led the sixth-most laps (34) and has scored the fifth-most factors (101). Richmond is one other observe that Bowman received at in 2021 that’s within the closing 10 races of the common season. He has three top-10 finishes in his final 4 begins on the .75-mile observe.

3-Getting stage factors. Among the many 12 drivers to already nab wins this season, Bowman has the third-fewest stage factors (57). You would possibly take a look at that and suppose that the motive force of the No. 48 is not qualifying nicely however he has the identical variety of top-10 beginning positions this season (seven) as teammates Elliott and Byron. With 9 top-10 finishes and his 12.1 common end – each totals are his finest at this level in a season in his Cup profession – the tip outcomes are there, it is only a matter of getting the factors within the center. Why is that this essential? That will be due to the playoff factors that the drivers within the prime 10 of the standings earn on the finish of the common season and Bowman is inside putting distance of as excessive as sixth (21 factors behind Martin Truex Jr.).

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