From Chase Elliott to Chase Briscoe: NASCAR Semifinalists Revealed

by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer

Drivers who applied to NASCAR Cup Series The playoff round enters the semi-finals with a sense of relief and anticipation.

After a run that included wild card-type races at Talladega and Charlotte’s track on the road, round eight featured three fairly “normal” tracks in Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville.

or like Denny Hamlin Put it after Charlotte: “Now we’re going to some racetracks where we can go racing.”

The 1.5-mile Las Vegas and Homestead trails are quite different, since Homestead has variable banks, where the angle of the banks becomes steeper than the wall, allowing for multiple canyons. The 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway could be the biggest challenge, with traffic being more expensive, as was the case with the first race with the NASCAR Next Generation car there in April.

The drivers raced in Las Vegas earlier this year in the third race of the season. This will be their first trip to Homestead.

At least one of the eight drivers will advance with points to be among the four drivers eligible to win the championship on November 6 in Phoenix. As in previous rounds, winning automatically qualifies the driver for the next round (in this case the Championship). Any remaining points will be determined by points.

Until this round, the driver can feel comfortable making their way to the next round. But now there is an urgent need to win.

Christopher Bell He knows about that pressure, because he needed an “exit” win on Sunday in Charlotte to advance to this round. After an accident in Texas from a flat tire and frustrated Talladega, Bale went from looking like he was going to be outside the playoffs to sitting three points above the cut-off line.

“I was upset with myself, and I’m not going to lie,” Bell said. “After Texas and then after Talladega, I was almost depressed, really cramped and stunned because I felt like we were doing everything right.

“And then, one of the bad races in Texas took us out of it. [But] We’re back to searching now.”

Christopher Bell’s reaction to victory in Charlotte

Christopher Bell's reaction to victory in Charlotte

After his victory on Sunday, Christopher Bell renewed his belief that he was a contender for the championship.

Here’s the outlook for the eight remaining drivers in contention.

be tough

There is only one driver who may feel he does not have to win. The top five in each of the races should advance him because of his points cushion.

Chase Elliot (1 seed, +31 when cut): The 2020 Cup champion is one of two former champions still alive on the field. It was the ninth in Las Vegas in March. He passed both stages and drove 185 laps before finishing 10th in Martinsville, one of his best tracks. This is Hendrik Motorsports’ sixth consecutive quarter-final appearance. He’s been in the championship for the past two years.

Chase Elliot at roller coaster week

Chase Elliot at roller coaster week

Chase Elliott describes the race’s roller coaster, from his Texas wreck to his victory a week later in Talladega.

be great

These drivers must feel they need to win, but if Elliott wins a race, they will have a better chance of getting points. These drivers have no room to breathe and will likely need three big races to get a chance.

Joey Logano (2 seed, +11 when cut): Lugano, the 2018 Cup champion, and Elliott are the only two champions left in the playoffs. Lugano will soon find out how much he and his team Penske have improved, having finished 14th in Las Vegas earlier this year. If he could put himself in his shoes by way of Martinsville, he would be satisfied; The second was there in April.

Ross Chastain (3 seed, +6 when cut): This is the first time in the playoffs for Chastain and Team Trackhouse. They probably don’t know the pressure, though, though Chastain, who has won twice this year, did nearly everything he could to eliminate his chance of progression by hitting the wall in Charlotte. In March, he finished third in the first stage, won stage two and finished third in Las Vegas while driving 83 laps. He started 27th and finished 5th in Martinsville.

Ross Chastain on his long day at Roval

Ross Chastain on his long day at Roval

Ross Chastain said Sunday after the race in Charlotte that he would do his best to leave the day in the rearview mirror.

Christopher Bell (4 seed, +3 when cut): There’s a good reason Bell is looking forward to this tour: The intermediate ovals (the 1.3 to 2-mile trails) were among his best trails this year. He sat on the pole and led 32 laps in Las Vegas, where he finished 10th in March. Martinsville wasn’t great for him, since he was twenty. Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s only drawback? This is the first time in his career that Bale has participated in this tour.

be a winner

These drivers shouldn’t count on points, at least not at first. After a race or two, that might change, but at first, they can’t assume that Elliott will win, and they can’t assume that three solid races will allow them to make up enough points.

Ryan Blaney (seed 5, -3 when cut): A crash in Las Vegas ended Blaney’s day early, as he finished 36th. He finished fourth in Martinsville in April. This is his fourth semi-final appearance, but he has never made it past this round. He is clearly hungry for victory as the only driver to have gone through qualifying without a win this year.

William Byron (seed 6, -3 when cut): Byron must love getting back on these tracks; He won the inaugural stage and finished fifth in Las Vegas and won in Martinsville earlier this year. This is the first time the Hendrick Motorsports driver has advanced to the quarter-finals, so he will have to show he can handle the pressure.

Denny Hamlin (7 seed, -5 when cut): Hamlin has reached the quarter-finals in seven of the nine years in this format, has made it to the title role four times… and still hasn’t won a championship. This might not be his best chance for a title, but if he and his team can avoid mistakes, he’ll be right in the middle. A propulsion issue ended his day early in Las Vegas, where he drove 31 laps earlier this year. He should be worried about Martinsville, where he finished 28.

Chase Brisco (8 seed, -9 when cut): Briscoe had an accident in Las Vegas earlier this year, so he didn’t get as many laps as the others. He started 19th and finished 9th in Martinsville in April. This is his first year in the playoffs, and his advantage is that the pressure is off because few expected him to go that far. Plus, if a Stewart-Haas Racing driver can make it to the championship, he’s the only driver to win the Phoenix in a next-generation car.

Bob Pokras covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @Popocrasand subscribe to Newsletter from FOX Sports NASCAR with Bob Pokras.

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