Round of 16 cut off race past stats

The stage is set, and the anticipation is high for this Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 16 cutoff race, the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).  Three Playoff drivers have locked themselves into the Round of 12 by either wins or points in the first two races of the Round of 16 – Kevin Harvick (won Darlington), Brad Keselowski (won Richmond) and Denny Hamlin (clinched on points) – leaving nine spots still up for grabs this weekend. 

The 2020 season marks the first time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s third race has been held at Bristol Motor Speedway and the first Cup postseason event at the 0.533-mile track. Bristol is the fifth different track in series history to host the third race of the Playoffs; joining Talladega Superspeedway (2004-2005), Kansas Speedway (2006–2010), Dover International Speedway (2011-2017) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (2018-2019).

A total of 13 different drivers have won the third race of the Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2013), Greg Biffle (2007, 2010), and Tony Stewart (2006, 2009) with two each. Three times the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has been won by a non-Playoff driver. In 2005, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett was 14th in points when he won the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race. Then in 2006, NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart was ranked 11th in points when he won the Kansas Speedway Playoff race. And finally, Greg Biffle was ranked 14th in points when he won the 2007 Kansas Playoff race.

Third Race of the Playoffs – Race Winners
TrackPlayoff Race WinnersDate
Charlotte RCChase ElliottSunday, September 29, 2019
Charlotte RCRyan BlaneySunday, September 30, 2018
DoverKyle BuschSunday, October 1, 2017
DoverMartin Truex JrSunday, October 2, 2016
DoverKevin HarvickSunday, October 4, 2015
DoverJeff GordonSunday, September 28, 2014
DoverJimmie JohnsonSunday, September 29, 2013
DoverBrad KeselowskiSunday, September 30, 2012
DoverKurt BuschSunday, October 2, 2011
KansasGreg BiffleSunday, October 3, 2010
KansasTony StewartSunday, October 4, 2009
KansasJimmie JohnsonSunday, September 28, 2008
KansasGreg BiffleSunday, September 30, 2007
KansasTony StewartSunday, October 1, 2006
TalladegaDale JarrettSunday, October 2, 2005
TalladegaDale Earnhardt JrSunday, October 3, 2004

Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2004, three times the winner of the third race of the postseason has gone on to win the title that same year.  In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won the third race of the Playoffs at Kansas Speedway and went on to win his third consecutive title. It was his first of three Playoff wins that season (Kansas, Martinsville-2, Phoenix-2). In 2012, Brad Keselowskiwon the third race of the Playoffs at Dover International Speedway and went on to win his first series title. It was Keselowski’s lone win during the 2012 Playoffs. Then in 2013, Jimmie Johnson won the third race of the Playoffs at Dover International Speedway and went on to win his sixth series title. It was his first of two Playoff wins that season (Dover-2, Texas-2) for the Hendrick Motorsports driver.

The worst finish by a driver in the third NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race that went on to win the series title that same season was: 

  • At the Charlotte Road Course (2018-2019): In 2019, Kyle Busch finished 37th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At Dover (2011-2017): In 2011, Tony Stewart finished 25th at Dover International Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At Kansas (2006-2010): In 2006, Jimmie Johnson finished 14th at Kansas Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At Talladega (2004-2005): In 2004, Kurt Busch finished fifth at Talladega Superspeedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.

In total Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted 119 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to the inaugural event on July 30, 1961 – the race was won by Jack Smith (with relief from Johnny Allen) driving a Pontiac. The 119 NASCAR Cup Series races at Bristol have produced 51 different pole winners and 42 different race winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip leads the series in wins at Bristol Motor Speedway with 12 victories; including eight straight (1978, 1979, 1981 sweep, 1982 sweep, 1983 sweep, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1992).  Eight former Cup Bristol winners are entered this weekend, led by Kyle Busch with eight victories (Spring 2007, 2009 sweep, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019), followed by Kurt Busch (six wins), Matt Kenseth (four), Brad Keselowski (three), Joey Logano (two), Kevin Harvick (two), Jimmie Johnson (two) and Denny Hamlin (two).

Clinch Scenarios: Last chance to make the Playoff’s Round of 12

This weekend’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will bring the first round of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs to a close and four drivers will be eliminated from the postseason. Three drivers are locked in and moving on, leaving nine spots still up for grabs.

Already Clinched

The following 3 drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver field of the next round: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a new winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 10th winless driver in the standings.

o   Joey Logano: Would clinch with 7 points

o   Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 20 points

o   Austin Dillon: Would clinch with 21 points

o   Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 30 points

o   Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 31 points

o   Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 40 points

o   Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 51 points

o   Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 51 points

o   Clint Bowyer: Would clinch with 55 points

o   William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help

If there is a repeat winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 11th winless driver in the standings.  They could also clinch if there was a new winner among Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch or Clint Bowyer and being ahead of the 10th winless driver in the standings.

o   Joey Logano: Would clinch with 4 points

o   Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 17 points

o   Austin Dillon: Would clinch with 18 points

o   Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 27 points

o   Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 28 points

o   Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 37 points

o   Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 48 points

o   Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 48 points

o   Clint Bowyer: Would clinch with 52 points

o   William Byron: Would clinch with 55 points

o   Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help

Can’t Eliminate This: Previous drivers that have raced their way into the Round of 12

Since the introduction of the ‘elimination style’ format of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, several drivers have raced their way into the Round of 12 in the third and final cutoff race of the Round of 16.

2014: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2014, Denny Hamlin was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings and six points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Hamlin finished 12th at Dover and advanced on points, knocking AJ Allmendinger (23rd-place finish at Dover) out of the Playoffs.

2015: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2015, Kevin Harvick was ranked 15th in the Playoff standings, 23 points back from the Round of 12 cutoff and Kyle Busch was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just one point behind the Round of 12 cutoff. Kevin Harvick won the race at Dover and automatically advanced to the next round. Kyle Busch finished second at Dover and advanced on points to the Round of 12 knocking Jamie McMurray (fourth-place finish at Dover) and Jimmie Johnson (41st-place finish due to mechanical issues at Dover) out of the Playoffs.

2016: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2016, Austin Dillon was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just five points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Dillon finished eighth at Dover and advanced on points knocking Kyle Larson (25th-place finish at Dover) out of the Playoffs.

2017: The four drivers below the Round of 12 cutline heading into the third race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Dover International Speedway – Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch – all failed to advance to the Round of 12 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Dover race.

2018: Heading to the Charlotte ROVAL (third race of the Playoffs) in 2018, Clint Bowyer was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings and four points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowyer finished third at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course and advanced on points knocking Austin Dillon (39th-place finish at the Charlotte ROVAL due to an incident) out of the Playoffs.

2019: Heading to the Charlotte ROVAL (third race of the Playoffs) in 2019, Clint Bowyer was ranked 14th in the Playoff standings, four points back from the Round of 12 cutoff and Alex Bowman was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just two points behind the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowyer finished fourth and Alex Bowman finished second at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Both drivers advanced on points to the Rou nd of 12 knocking Kyle Larson (13th-place finish at Charlotte) and Aric Almirola (14th-place finish at Charlotte) out of the Playoffs.

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