2022 NASCAR Playoff Recap – Round Of 16, Race 1

2022 NASCAR Playoff Recap - Round Of 16, Race 1

Justin Byers, Author

Darlington, SC – This past weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series headed off its first playoff race of 2022 at the famous Darlington Raceway, also known as the Lady In Black. Who started their championship with a good start? The no. 2 of Autin Cindric (P) was the fastest in the practice session with a lap time of 29.324 seconds. However, it was his Team Penske teammate of Joey Logano (P) who scored the Busch pole with a lap time of 29.181 seconds. The no. 20 of Christopher Bell (P) finished off the front row in 2nd place. Before the race, the no. 99 of Daniel Suarez (P) failed pre-qualifying inspection and would be ordered, by rule, to forfeit qualifying and take a drive-through penalty before lap 3 ended. About an hour before the race was scheduled to start, rain hit Darlington. NASCAR announced before the race that a competition caution would be called at or around lap 25. On the pace laps, polesitter Joey Logano (P) elected to start the race on the outside lane. On lap one, Christopher Bell (P) took the lead going into turn one. Joey Logano (P) fought back on the outside lane to keep hold of the race lead. At the end of lap one, Daniel Suarez (P) took his pass through pit road and fell a lap behind Joey Logano (P). On lap 6, NASCAR called the first caution of the race for a passing shower. The cars stayed on track and went back green on lap 17. NASCAR moved the competition caution to lap 35, instead of the original lap 25. The no. 99 received the free pass during the yellow flag and got himself back on the lead lap. This caution was a big break for Daniel Suarez (P) who won’t need to fight for his lap back anymore. The no. 24 of William Byron (P) would pass Joey Logano (P) for the lead of the race on lap 66. On lap 79, the no. 5 of Kyle Larson (P) pits with no power. His team was able to fix the problem but Larson has now scored 3 laps down. Our 3rd caution of the race would come on lap 113 when champion favorite Chase Elliott (P) spun and collected the no. 14 of Chase Briscoe (P). The first stage would be completed under that caution, being won by William Byron (P). NASCAR’s 10-minute Damage Vehicle Policy (DVP) would expire for the no. 9 of Chase Elliott (P) who will finish the race in 40th place. This was a big blow to his championship hopes. The playoff points he earned throughout the regular season would come in handy, however, we still have two races left in the round of 16. Only 12 drivers can make the next round and he now sits in 9th place in the standings. Kyle Busch (P) would assume the race lead on pit road and would lead the field to green to begin the 2nd stage. No. 1 of Ross Chastain (P) would report a problem with his car. He pits on lap 170 where his team diagnosed that a piece of debris got stuck between the wheel and the hub that may have damaged the drive pins. He would fall 4 laps down on pit road but he continues in the race. The no. 38 of Todd Gilliland would spin in turn 2 bringing out the 5th caution of the race on lap 179. Kyle Busch (P) would keep the race lead on the restart but Kyle Larson (P) would spin off turn 4 on lap 192 bringing out the 6th caution flag. The no. 19 of Martin Truex Jr. (P) would pass the no. 18 for the race lead on lap 209, but on lap 218, the no. 51 of Cody Ware would spin off turn 4 bringing out the 7th caution. Kyle Busch (P) would win stage 2 on lap 230. Busch (P) is looking like a clear contender for the race win in Darlington. Kyle Larson (P) gets the free pass and is finally back on the lead lap after being 3 laps down. Stage 3 would start on lap 237, 131 laps left in the race. During green flag, pit stops on lap 271, the no. 99 would be caught speeding and would be assessed his 2nd drive-through penalty of the race. On lap 276, the no. 4 of Kevin Harvick (P) would see his race come to an end when his right front rocker panel caught fire, and Harvick (P) would be forced to exit his race car in turn one. Harvick (P) would become the 8th caution of the race. The no. 99 would have been one of the wave around cars but since he is still yet to serve his speeding penalty, he is not eligible, per the NASCAR rulebook. Kevin Harvick (P) told NBC during an interview, “What a disaster. For no reason! We didn’t touch the wall, we didn’t touch a car and here we are in the pits with a burned-up car and can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy ass parts.” Harvick (P) is clearly upset about how his day ended. The 18 car keeps the race lead on the restart but loses it to the 19 car on lap 294. The 9th caution would be called on lap 340 when the no. 51 smacked the outside retaining wall in turn 3, ending his day. The no. 19 would take his car to the garage after overheating. The 19 had lost the lead on lap 336. The 18 would stay out under this yellow and restart in the first place. However, Kyle Busch (P) would have an engine failure under caution, and the no. 43 of Eric Jones would take over the lead of the race. Eric Jones would race for the lead of the race, looking for his first win of the season. Eric Jones would hold off the nos. 11 and 8 and win the race. The no. 11 of Denny Hamlin (P) would come within 2 car lengths of Eric Jones but his laps would run out. Eric Jones would hold off the nos. 11 and 8 to win the race and earn his 2nd career win. Denny Hamlin (P), Tyler Reddick (P), Joey Logano (P), and Christopher Bell (P) would round out the top 5. Full race results can be found here: https://www.espn.com/racing/raceresults/_/series/sprint/raceId/202209043891

The time of the race was 4 hours, 9 minutes, and 49 seconds. We had 0 red flags, and 9 cautions for a total of 58 laps. The average speed of the race was 120.406mph. The point standings are as follows:

  1. Joey Logano – 2,065 (+38)
  2. William Byron – 2,059 (+32)
  3. Denny Hamlin – 2,057 (+30)
  4. Christopher Bell – 2055 (+28)
  5. Tyler Reddick – 2050 (+23)
  6. Ryan Blaney – 2047 (+20)
  7. Kyle Larson – 2044 (+17)
  8. Ross Chastain – 2042 (+15)
  9. Chase Elliott – 2041 (+14)
  10.  Alex Bowman – 2037 (+10)
  11.  Kyle Busch – 2035 (+8)
  12.  Daniel Suarez – 2029 (+2)

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13.  Austin Cindric – 2027 (-2)

14. Austin Dillon – 2025 (-4)

15. Chase Briscoe – 2019 (-10)

16. Kevin Harvick – 2016 (-13)

The 2nd race of the Round of 16 is Sunday, September 11th at Kanas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400 presented by Barstool Sportsbook. You can watch the race on USA Network starting at 3:00 pm EST. A green flag is scheduled for 3:18 pm EST. The National Weather Service has a temperature of around 70 degrees and a 20% chance of rain. Kanas Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval and was built in 2002. Kyle Larson (Oct. 24, 2021) and Kurt Busch (May 15, 2022) are our last two winners. Kurt Busch is out for the rest of the season with a concussion.