The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (2:30 p.m. CT, TV: USA Network, Radio: SiriusXM Ch. 90, PRN, 95.9 The Ranch local) will be the opening race for a second playoff that also includes the Talladega Superspeedway (October 2) and Charlotte Roval (October 9).
Four drivers – Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Tyler Riddick – were eliminated after the round of 16, leaving dozens of contenders heading into the second of four rounds in the form of an elimination style qualifier.
The 12 drivers are Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Alex Bowman of Hendrik Motorsports. Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Austin Sendrick of Team Penske; Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing; Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez of Trackhouse Racing; and Chase Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing.
Here are the “5 quick things to watch” on the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500:
1. Ryan Blaney He opens the round of 12 as the eighth seed, but Texas Motor Speedway can make it come off fast. Team Penske’s driver won the NASCAR All-Star Race there in May and has been strong lately in point-push races at the 1.5-mile oval as well. He will look to follow the pattern established last season by Larson, who won his first NASCAR All-Star Race in Texas and then went on to dominate the elimination race by driving 256 of 334 laps. Blaney also finished eighth or better in his last four starting points and seven out of the last eight, including three in the top five during that stretch. He finished second in this race personally in 2018 and was sixth last year.
2. Kevin Harvick And the Kyle Bush They were eliminated from competing for the playoffs after the Round of 16 but expect the duo to impact this race given their career success in Texas and not having to worry about points racing to advance. Harvick has recorded three consecutive playoff wins this fall from 2017-19, and has racked up 13 top-10 wins in his last 14 games overall at Texas Motor Speedway. His average finishing position is 9.7 backed by a track record of 24 times in the top ten. Busch tied Carl Edwards for the second most cup wins in TMS with four, and ranks second in career laps (1,069). He reached straight from five points in a row, and top 10 finals in Texas, including winning that event in 2020. Bush also looked strong at the NASCAR All-Star Race, winning the first stage and leading every lap of the race – 47 total – in At the time he had a tire problem that resulted in a race-ending accident with Chastain.
3. The 16 contenders were disqualified in the opening round as the non-competing drivers won all three races. Eric Jones He won the inaugural game in Kansas and was followed by victories from Bubba Wallace In Kansas and Prosper, a native of Texas Chris Boecher In Bristol last Saturday night. No playoff driver was able to automatically advance to the next round by virtue of a win which put a bonus on points. That streak could stretch to four races with the likes of Busch and Harvick out of competition and looming.
4. Chase Elliot He opens the round of 12 as the top seed and hopes to start the trend in the right direction at Texas Motor Speedway. He finished seventh in last year’s heat race in Texas to cut into a streak of four straight points-pushing races without finishing in the top 10. His best result in Texas is fourth, which came in that event in 2016. Elliott has also not driven a lap in his last four TMS games and has only 44 points from 11 in his career. However, he’s been solid in qualifying as he’s started eighth or better in four of his last five visits.
5. Only three drivers. Denny HamlinAnd the Kyle Larson And the Joey Logano – Among 12 competitors who have previously won a points drive race at Texas Motor Speedway. Larson was the latest of the trio, winning the playoff wire race in 2021 to dominate fashion. Hamlin is a three-time winner with his most recent appearance in the 2019 Spring Race. Lugano scored his victory in Spring 2014.
Lil’ Texas Motor Speedway’s newly renovated 1/5 mile dirt track will begin its racing weekend with the opening C. Bell’s MICRO MANIA. The four-day event (September 21-24) includes practice on Wednesday, qualifying races on Thursday and Friday, and competitions and finals on Saturday. Micro Sprints are smaller versions of the full-size race cars with side-mounted 600cc motorcycle engines that can generate 140 horsepower with similar chassis and body styles to the larger versions. NASCAR stars currently confirmed to participate include Christopher Bell, two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Bush, his son Brixton Bush, Sheldon Creed, Daniel Hemrick, Brett Moffett and John Hunter Nemechic.