NASCAR Playoffs 2022: Standings, bracket, schedule, favorites

Everything you need to know before the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs premiere on NBC Sports Washington

After a hectic 26-race regular season, it’s finally time for the NASCAR Playoffs.

Sixteen drivers will compete for the Bill France Cup, which will be awarded to the champion in November. But to win it all, drivers must survive three elimination rounds before beating the best competitors in the finale.

Will Kyle Larson repeat as champion? Could Chase Elliott win his second title in three years? Or is a veteran like Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick poised to win another championship?

Here’s everything you need to know about the NASCAR Playoffs, including ratings, format, schedule and more:

How do the NASCAR playoffs work?

Buckle up, because this format can get tricky.

Drivers qualify for the playoffs by winning one regular season race. Since there have been 15 different playoff-eligible winners this season, the 16th and final spot was filled by points.

Once the playoffs begin, the rankings reset. Each playoff driver is given 2,000 points to start, but points are added based on regular season performance. If a driver wins a race, it gives them five playoff points. If a driver wins a stage (each race consists of three stages), this gives him a playoff point. The regular season champion gets 15 playoff points, while second place gets 10, third gets eight, fourth gets seven, and so on.

Well, take Chase Elliott for example. He made the playoffs (2,000 points), won the regular season championship (15 points), won four races (20 points) and won five stages (five points). That gives him 2,040 points to start the playoffs, the most of any driver.

There are 10 games and four rounds in the playoffs – the Round of 16, Round of 12, Round of 8 and Championship 4. The first three rounds consist of three games each, while Championship 4 comes down to a single game.

At the end of the first three rounds, four drivers are eliminated, reducing the contenders from 16 to 12 to eight to four. Winning a race in a round automatically advances a driver to the next round, while the remaining positions are filled based on points.

Thus, if three different playoff drivers win a race in the Round of 16, nine spots will be filled based on points and the four lowest points earners will be eliminated. Or, for another example, if two different playoff drivers win a race in the Round of 8, two Championship 4 spots will be filled based on points.

For the Phoenix finale, the drivers of the final four will compete for the title in a simple format: whoever crosses the finish line first is the champion.

NASCAR 2022 Playoff Standings

I touched on it above, but Elliott sits atop the playoff standings after winning the regular season title and the best four games in the series. He will be closely followed by Joey Logano, Ross Chastain and defending champion Kyle Larson.

Here’s the full standings, with a breakdown of how each driver earned their points:

  1. Chase Elliott, 2040 points (four wins, five stages, 15 bonus points)

  2. Joey Logano, 2025 points (two wins, five stages, 10 bonus points)

  3. Ross Chastain, 2020 points (two wins, five stages, five bonus points)

  4. Kyle Larson, 2019 (two wins, three stages, six bonus points)

  5. William Byron, 2014 points (two wins, three stages, one bonus point)

  6. Denny Hamlin, 2013 points (two wins, three stages)

  7. Ryan Blaney, 2013 points (five stages, eight bonus points)

  8. Tyler Reddick, 2012 points (two wins, two stages)

  9. Kevin Harvick, 2012 points (two wins, two bonus points)

  10. Christopher Bell, 2011 points (one win, two stages, four bonus points)

  11. Kyle Busch, 2010 points (one win, two stages, three bonus points)

  12. Chase Briscoe, 2009 points (one win, four stages)

  13. Daniel Suarez, 2007 points (one win, two stages)

  14. Austin Cindric, 2006 points (one win, one stage)

  15. Alex Bowman, 2006 points (one win, one stage)

  16. Austin Dillon, 2005 points (one win)

Going into the Round of 16, Suarez, Cindric, Bowman and Dillon are all in a position to be eliminated if they fail to gain ground in the next three matches.

Who’s in the NASCAR Playoffs?

Sixteen drivers have made the NASCAR playoffs in the current format, which was adopted in 2014. NASCAR used a different playoff format from 2004 to 2013. Let’s take a look at the 2022 field, sorted by level of playoff experience :

  • Kevin Harvick, 16th in playoffs, one championship

  • Denny Hamlin, 16th in playoffs

  • Kyle Busch, 15th playoff finish, two championships

  • Joey Logano, ninth playoff spot, one championship

  • Chase Elliott, seventh playoff spot, one championship

  • Kyle Larson, sixth in playoffs, one championship

  • Ryan Blaney, sixth in playoffs

  • Alex Bowman, fifth place in playoffs

  • Austin Dillon, fifth playoff spot

  • William Byron, fourth place in playoffs

  • Christopher Bell, second place playoff

  • Tyler Reddick, second playoff spot

  • Chase Briscoe, playoff debut

  • Ross Chastain, playoff debut

  • Austin Sidric, playoff debut

  • Daniel Suarez, debut in the playoffs

When do the NASCAR playoffs start?

There is no break between the regular season and the play-offs, with the start of the last 16 set for Sunday, September 4 at Darlington Raceway. The “Cook Out Southern 500” will go green at 6 p.m. ET on the USA Network and online via NBC Sports.

What is the NASCAR Playoffs schedule?

The NASCAR playoffs are a 10-race, non-stop game. Here’s the full schedule from Darlington to Phoenix, with all games airing on NBC or USA Network:

Round 16

  1. Darlington Raceway (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, USA)

  2. Kansas Speedway (Sept. 11, 3 p.m. ET, USA)

  3. Bristol Motor Speedway (Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. ET, USA)

Round 12

  1. Texas Motor Speedway (September 25, 3:30 p.m. ET, USA)

  2. Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)

  3. Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (Oct. 9, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)

Round 8

  1. Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

  2. Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

  3. Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30, 2 p.m. ET, NBC)

Championship 4

  1. Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6, 3 p.m. ET, NBC)

NASCAR Playoffs bracket 2022

March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events in the country because anyone can fill out a bracket, regardless of their college basketball knowledge. Now, you can do the same for NASCAR.

Here’s a look at the bracket you can fill out:

@NASCAR on Twitter

Why isn’t Kurt Busch in the playoffs?

Kurt Busch, driving for Michael Jordan’s Racing 23XIwon at Kansas Speedway in May.

That win would have locked him into the playoffs, but he suffered a concussion in a crash at Pocono in July. The 44-year-old veteran missed the final six games of the regular season and won’t return in time for the playoffs. he lost his rights.

Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs, 19, has been running the No. 45 since the injury and will keep doing it for as long as Bush is out.

Who Missed the NASCAR Playoffs?

There are 32 full-time Cup Series drivers, so 16 of them missed the playoffs: Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Aric Almirola, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, Justin Haley, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cole Custer, Michael McDowell , Harrison Burton, Brad Keselowski, Ty Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Corey LaJoie and Cody Ware.

Busch obviously would have made the playoffs had he been healthy, but there were several other drivers who narrowly missed out.

Truex finished just three points behind Blaney for the 16th playoff spot. The 2017 Cup champion missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014 when they finished 24th in the standings. Likewise, Keselowski missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013 after a rough first season with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.

McDowell (10 top-10s), Jones (9 top-10s), Buescher (eight top-10s), Almirola (seven top-10s) and Wallace (six top-10s) were among the other top drivers who missed the postseason.

Even though these drivers did not make the playoffs, they will still compete in the final 10 races. Everyone is fighting to finish 17th in the standings, because every place they improve earns their team more money.

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