Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas

·3 min read

The NASCAR Cup Series playoff list is much lighter entering Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The playoffs’ first round eliminated Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon.

Entering the Round of 12 Sunday are six Chevrolet drivers, four Ford drivers and two Toyota drivers — a group that includes three former champions (Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson) and one rookie (Austin Cindric).

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It’s quite a mix, as is the round itself. After Texas, the playoffs move on to Talladega Superspeedway and then to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval for the next cutoff race.

Sunday’s 500-mile race (3:30 p.m., ET) will be televised by the USA Network.

A look at drivers to watch at TMS:

FRONTRUNNERS

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 1st

  • Last three races: 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas, 36th at Darlington

  • Past at Texas: Best career finish is 4th

Elliott is back at the top of the points after a second-place run Saturday at Bristol. Texas isn’t one of his better tracks, but he finished seventh in this race a year ago despite starting in the rear because of multiple inspection failures.

Joey Logano

  • Points position: 2nd

  • Last three races: 27th at Bristol, 17th at Kansas, 4th at Darlington

  • Past at Texas: Won in April 2014, three top 10s in past four races

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Logano will be a favorite to reach the Round of 8, but he hasn’t won a race since early June. At Texas, he has nine top 10s in the past 11 races.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 3rd

  • Last three races: 6th at Bristol, 7th at Kansas, 20th at Darlington

  • Past at Texas: Best career finish in five career starts is 18th

Chastain sits third in the playoff standings but faces a tall task at Texas, a track where he has never led a lap. He finished 28th at TMS a year ago after being involved in a crash on Lap 31.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Austin Cindric

  • Points position: 12th

  • Last three races: 20th at Bristol, 12th at Kansas, 16th at Darlington

  • Past at Texas: First Cup race at TMS. Had one win and six tops fives in eighth Xfinity starts.

The playoffs’ lone rookie hasn’t won since visiting victory lane in the season-opening Daytona 500. He squeezed into the Round of 12 in the final position and is seven points below the cutline.

Ryan Blaney

  • Points position: 8th

  • Last three races: 30th at Bristol, 9th at Kansas, 13th at Darlington

  • Past at Texas: Best career finish for a points race at Texas is 2nd in 2018. He won the All-Star Race there in May

Can Blaney continue the magic act that involves not winning races but staying in the championship hunt? He’s never won a points Cup race at Texas but has seven finishes of eighth or better in the past eight races.

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th

  • Last three races: 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas, 2nd at Darlington

  • Past at Texas: 3 wins

Top 10s in all three races in the first round of the playoffs keep Hamlin in contention for another shot at what would be his first Cup championship. He has a good record at TMS.

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Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas originally appeared on NBCSports.com