NASCAR Playoffs recap: Round of 16, Cup Series

Editor‘s note: With Champion‘s Week in Nashville ongoing, NASCAR.com will look back at every playoff round of the 2022 season in all three national series.

Race 1: At Darlington Raceway, Sept. 4

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 04: Erik Jones, driver of the #43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images
DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 04: Erik Jones, driver of the #43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Winner: Erik Jones

Key highlights: The opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs plagued numerous title contenders, including Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Busch‘s motor expired while leading under caution with 23 laps to go, opening the door for Jones to charge to the win in the Petty GMS No. 43 Chevrolet for his third career win.

Full race recap: Erik Jones pulls off Southern 500 stunner in upset win at Darlington

At-track photos: Best pictures from Darlington

 

Race 2: At Kansas Speedway, Sept. 11

Bubba Wallace performs a burnout at Kansas
Bubba Wallace performs a burnout at Kansas

Winner: Bubba Wallace

Key highlights: Playoff woes continued again for championship hopefuls, including Kyle Busch who spun off Turn 4; Kevin Harvick who crashed early; and Tyler Reddick, whose flat right-rear tire sent him into the wall and ended his day. With one of the quickest cars of the weekend, Wallace led the final 43 laps en route to the victory over his 23XI Racing team owner Denny Hamlin, who finished second in consecutive weeks.

Full race recap: Bubba Wallace plays playoff spoiler, surges to Kansas win

At-track photos: Best pictures from Kansas

 

Race 3: At Bristol Motor Speedway, Sept. 17

Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Winner: Chris Buescher

Key highlights: Buescher‘s victory completed a clean sweep of non-playoff drivers to win the opening round of the postseason, but not without more issues for the title contenders. Kyle Busch‘s playoffs came to an abrupt end with another engine failure; Austin Dillon failed to advance after getting caught up in a crash; Joey Logano‘s day ended with a mechanical problem.

Full race recap: Chris Buescher scores Bristol victory, champions eliminated from playoffs

At-track photos: Best pictures from Bristol

Drivers eliminated: Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick