The hottest driver in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoff field might be Christopher Bell, who entered the Round of 16 as the 10th seed.
Bell has been the only playoff driver to post three top-five finishes, dominating his competitors in stage points – accumulating 50 stage points in the first three playoff races, 14 more stage points than the next highest driver, Kyle Busch, with 36.
The showing moved Bell up to seventh in the standings, 27 points back from points leader Chase Elliott.
This is Bell’s second career appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2021, 2022), and the Oklahoma native is looking to advance to the Round of 8 for the first time. He was eliminated in the Round of 12 in last season’s playoffs, ultimately finishing 12th in the final championship standings.
But this weekend is looking fortuitous for Bell, as Texas Motor Speedway, which hosts the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, is a track at which he has excelled.
In three Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile facility, Bell has put up two top-five finishes and has an average finish of 9.0 (second-best among active drivers).
“Texas is one of my best tracks statistically and a place I enjoy racing at,” Bell said. “It’s a very important race and we need to capitalize on Texas before heading into Talladega.”
Heading into this weekend at Texas, the entire NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 field is only separated by 34 points. Ryan Blaney is currently sitting in the eighth and final transfer spot on points to the Round of 8 and holds a four-point lead on Chase Briscoe in the ninth position – the first spot outside the next round’s cutoff.
Last season’s NASCAR Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway playoff race winner, Kyle Larson, currently in fourth in the playoff standings, returns to Texas to defend his win and get his first postseason victory of 2022.
Larson has made 14 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway posting one win (2021), four top fives and five top 10s.
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