NASCAR’s playoff race is closer than ever heading into the first race of the knockout stages on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Chaos will undoubtedly unfold on the 1.5-mile track as playoff drivers scramble to land or stay above the cutoff line for the season-ending Championship 4 race.
Sixth-place driver Chase Elliott is 43 points behind first-place driver Kyle Larson, who won last week’s race at Charlotte’s Roval Circuit. Elliott rallied to finish 12th in that race after being smashed by Kevin Harvick. Had the accident not occurred, Elliott would have had a chance to earn more points and secure a spot in the top four. Harvick himself crashed late in the race and was knocked out of the playoffs.
MORE: Harvick smashes Elliott, then crashes out of playoffs
The feud between the two escalated in Charlotte after an incident three weeks earlier in Bristol. NASCAR took additional steps last week to ensure the dispute did not continue. On Wednesday, he held a conference call with both drivers, their team leaders, car owners and representatives of the manufacturers to warn of the dire consequences if they did not crush their meat.
TEXAS LINEUP: Starting order, pole for unranked playoff race
Sporting News is tracking live updates and lap-by-lap highlights from the NASCAR playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Follow for complete results for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500.
NASCAR Texas Live Update, Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Highlights
All the time of the East.
3:00: Larson takes the lead from the inside and passes Byron before reaching turn three.
2:58: Larson sneaks up on Byron and cuts his lead to less than half a second.
2:50: Kyle Larson passes Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin for third place on lap 77.
2:45: Chase Elliott reaches fifth on lap 52.
2:38: Byron maintains his lead coming off caution closely followed by a small group. Truex Jr. Reddick and Dibenedetto battle for second place.
2:32: Various drivers are performed during the day, including Stenhouse, Newman, Preece, Haley, Ware, and Gase. The crash marks the most cars involved in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway.
2:28: Bubba Wallace spins to crash into Ross Chastain and into the wall. The crash causes a major accident on the back straight that leaves the competition’s yellow flag. Kyle Busch escapes with minor damage.
2:24: Byron exits pit road followed by Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch was called for speeding on pit road and will be sent to the rear.
2:22: Larson leads on lap 25 followed by Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Kyle Busch.
2:19: Larson has a two-second lead over Joey Logano with three laps before the competition’s cautionary flag.
2:14: Kevin Harvick is seen struggling in 29th spot. Chase Elliott is sneaking up on 22nd spot after starting from the rear.
2:11: Kyle Larson takes an early lead in five laps followed by Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin.
2:08: The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 is underway in Texas.
2:00: Engines start before the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.
1:45: Bowman will also go to the rear to make unapproved adjustments.
1:30: Chase Elliott will fall to the rear after missing twice.
NASCAR start time today
- Weather: 2 pm ET
- Television channel: NBC
- Live broadcast: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App, Peacock, fuboTV
The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled to fall at 2:08 p.m. ET.
How to watch NASCAR in Texas
- Television channel: NBC
- Live broadcast: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, fuboTV
- Radio: PRN
NBC programming will begin at 1:30 pm ET with the network’s “Countdown to Green” pre-race show hosted by Marty Snider with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Daugherty. Rick Allen will handle the play-by-play call of the run. Earnhardt, Jeff Burton, and Steve Letarte will provide an analysis.
Snider, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman will be the pit reporters. Daugherty will provide additional reporting around the track.
NASCAR Cup playoff standings
The round of 16 field was established last weekend with the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Larson came out of that race with victory and a 42-point lead over Kyle Busch, the first driver below the cutoff for the season-ending Championship 4 race.
The field is tightly packed after Larson; drivers from second to sixth place are separated by only eight points. That closeness makes winning one of the next three races vitally important. A playoff driver who wins a race in Round of 8 automatically qualifies for the Championship race 4 on November 7 at Phoenix Raceway.
“You have to be really good. You have to do a good job every lap of every race. You have to get your stage points,” Larson said of the challenge of being the leader. “You can’t let your guard down and lose ground to the guys that are gaining you points. Yeah, it’s nice to have the (65) bonus points that we have, but I hope we don’t have to rely on them.” like we did in Talladega, or entering (Charlotte) “.
Larson finished 37th at Talladega after sinking. That result cost him more than half his lead over the first driver below the cutoff line, Kevin Harvick for Charlotte’s race.
Five previous Cup Series champions are in this year’s round of 16: Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||4029|
NASCAR starting lineup in Texas
NASCAR used a mathematical formula to establish the starting lineup for Sunday’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. 39 cars were entered for the race, which is one less than a full field. Playoff drivers are indicated with a “P” next to their names.
Under NASCAR playoff rules, the top eight places on the field went to the remaining eight playoff drivers, but the starting order was based on the mathematical formula that NASCAR has used for most of its races this season.
|Pos. Start||Driver||Car No.||Team|
|1||P-Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2||P-Denny Hamlin||eleven||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||P-Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|4||P-Ryan Blaney||12||Penske Team|
|5||P-Joey Logano||22||Penske Team|
|6||P-Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|7||P-Brad Keselowski||2||Penske Team|
|8||P-Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|9||Tyler reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|10||Chris buescher||17||Roush Fenway racing|
|eleven||Christopher bell||twenty||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|12||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|13||Matt DiBenedetto||twenty-one||Wood Brothers Racing|
|14||Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|fifteen||Austin dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|sixteen||Michael McDowell||3. 4||Front row motorsports|
|17||Kurt busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|18||Bubba wallace||2. 3||23XI Races|
|19||Daniel Suarez placeholder image||99||TrackHouse Racing|
|twenty||Cole custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|twenty-one||Erik jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|22||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|2. 3||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|24||Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|25||Ross Chastain||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|26||Chase briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|27||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|28||Anthony Alfredo||38||Front row motorsports|
|29||Corey lajoie||7||Spire Motorsports|
|30||what houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|31||Ryan newman||6||Roush Fenway racing|
|32||Justin haley||77||Spire Motorsports|
|33||Josh bilicki||52||Rick Ware Racing|
|3. 4||Cody Ware||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|35||BJ McLeod||78||Live fast motor sports|
|36||Garrett smithley||fifteen||Rick Ware Racing|
|37||Joey gas||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|38||David starr||66||Business Management of Motorsports|
|39||Timmy hill||13||Business Management of Motorsports|
Tom Gatto contributed to this report.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.