It was a battle all the way down to the last lap of the first elimination race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway, with six Chevrolet drivers prevailing to advance to the Round of 12 and continue in the championship title hunt. The 500-lap annual night race at “The Last Great Colosseum” provided drama throughout, but the bowtie brigade proved its strength, continuing to occupy 50 percent of the playoff field for the second consecutive round. Chevrolet drivers continuing on include all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates (Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Alex Bowman); as well as Trackhouse Racing teammates and first-time playoff drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.
It was a playoff opening round for the record books. Three non-playoff drivers took the victories in each of the three races in the Round of 16; a first-time occurrence in series’ history since the NASCAR playoff era began in 2004. Consistency was key for playoff drivers to solidify their spot into the next round. William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 team proved to be a contender right out of the gate, with an eighth-place finish at Darlington Raceway that took the 24-year-old North Carolina native to the second spot in the playoff standings. Byron was able to maintain that position on the playoff grid throughout the opening round, scoring top-10 finishes in all three races.
With the playoff grid reseeded in advance of the Round of 12, a familiar face is back in the top position in the standings: 2022 NCS regular-season champion Chase Elliott. The 26-year-old Georgia native now sits 31-points above the cutline, while continuing to lead the series in wins (4), top-fives (11), top-10s (18), laps led (719) and accumulated playoff points (40). Joining Elliott in the top-five of the playoff standings includes Ross Chastain (third; 11-points above the cutline), Kyle Larson (fourth; 10-points above the cutline), and William Byron (fifth; 6-points above the cutline), giving Chevrolet four of the top-five playoff spots heading into race one of the Round of 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez sit in the 10th and 11th spots in the standings, respectively, but both only six-points below the cutline.