Kyle Larson clinched a spot in the Championship 4 with his NASCAR Cup Series playoff win at Texas on Sunday.
Larson dominated the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, holding the lead for the majority of the race at Texas Motor Speedway. The first-place finish in the Round of 8 opener advances Larson to the season-ending Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 7.
The race got ugly quickly as Bubba Wallace started a series of crashes and wrecks in Stage 1. Wallace spun out, which caused Ross Chastain to crash and briefly block the entire backstretch of Texas’ 1.5-mile track.
Kevin Harvick, who was eliminated from the playoffs at last week’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte, fought his way to a fifth-place finish, without having any encounters with Chase Elliott. Elliott consistently battled tire and mechanical issues that kept him from earning a top-10 finish.
MORE: Harvick wrecks Elliott, then crashes out of playoffs
Multiple crashes and an engine failure for Joey Logano’s car brought out yellow and red flags in the final 33 laps. Anthony Alfredo, Martin Truex Jr. and Chris Buescher all crashed out of the race.
William Byron, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, earned a second-place finish, followed by fellow playoff driver Christopher Bell. They will resume the battle for playoff position in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 24.
Sporting News tracked updates and lap-by-lap highlights from NASCAR’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Follow for complete results from the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500.
NASCAR at Texas live updates, highlights from Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
All times Eastern.
6:05: Kyle Larson is first to cross the finish line as he secures his spot in NASCAR’s Championship 4 race at Phoenix.
6:02: Two laps remain as drivers race into the green flag at Texas. Larson leads followed by Keselowski and Byron.
5:56: Reddick makes contact with Byron and causes a tire rub. Buescher makes contact with Hamlin and spins into the wall.
5:54: The green flag is waved with 10 laps remaining. Larson leads off the restart followed by Byron. Reddick gets tapped from behind by Harvick but stays at third.
5:48: Daniel Suarez contacts Martin Truex Jr. and causes him to slam into the wall and sustain heavy damage to his right front.
5:47: Larson leads from the restart followed by Reddick and Byron fighting for second.
5:41: Hamlin spins out at Turn 2 and forces a caution with 20 to go. He’s able to recover and heads to pit road with tire issues as he fights to stay in the race.
5:40: Larson takes the lead. Hamlin, Blaney, and Harvick are three-wide at second. Blaney makes contact with Hamlin and forces a tire rub.
5:39: The green flag is waved for the restart with 25 to go following the caution.
5:20: Almost immediately off the caution, Buescher gets a contact from Kyle Busch. He recovers from the spin, but the contact causes Anthony Alfredo to spin into the wall. He luckily escaped after his car caught fire on the track and caused red flag conditions to delay the race.
5:10: Joey Logano’s engine failure forces him to exit the track with 32 to go.
5:07: Byron pushes Larson from the inside as they battle for the lead with 47 to go.
5:00: Larson leads with 52 to go followed by Byron, Reddick and Keselowski. Hamlin was fifth off pit road but couldn’t hold off Blaney and Logano.
4:56 : Larson leads coming off pit road in what will likely be drivers’ last stop before the final laps.
4:50: Briscoe attempts to pass Denny Hamlin and almost caused a crash.
4:49: Christopher Bell goes to pit road with 72 laps to go after complaining about vibrations.
4:42: Several drivers are complaining about vibrations, including first-place driver Kyle Larson.
4:38: Reddick passes Harvick to secure the fifth position at lap 245.
4:32: Keselowski and Blaney make moves to pass Harvick. Larson extends his lead to over a second ahead of Byron.
4:30: Kevin Harvick fights Byron for the second position at lap 225, the top three drivers are separated by less than a second.
4:27: Kurt Busch heads to pit road with flat tires. Blaney fights with Keselowski for the fourth position.
4:25: The green flag flies at lap 217 to start the final stage at Texas Motor Speedway.
4:20: Larson is first off pit road ahead of the green flag for the final stage at Texas.
4:15: Kyle Larson takes the Stage 2 victory over William Byron with a close finish.
4:05: Kyle Busch falls to 10th place and combats tire issues. Harvick holds the fourth position as he passes Keselowski on lap 190 with 20 to go in the second stage.
4:01: Kurt Busch cruises past his brother Kyle at sixth. Harvick creeps up on Ryan Blaney and fights for the fourth position with Brad Keselowski.
3:50: Debris on the center of the backstretch causes the fourth caution at Texas on lap 166.
3:45: Elliott makes an unscheduled stop to change his tires.
3:40: Chase Elliott is at 20th as he suffers issues with the right front tire. He will go one lap down after pitting.
3:35: Kyle Larson leads with 65 laps to go in Stage 2.
3:30: Denny Hamlin drops to 12th and reports that his tires are “rolling over and chattering.”
3:27: Harvick races to catch up Elliott and passes him to get up to fourth.
3:25: Kyle Busch leads coming off the restart at lap 114 followed by Byron and Larson fighting for second.
3:19: Kyle Busch is first off pit road followed by Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney. The cars are lining up ahead of the green flag for Stage 2.
3:13: Busch scores 10 points as he wins the first stage at Texas Motor Speedway.
3:10: Kyle Busch takes the lead coming off pit road with seven laps to go in the first stage. Ryan Blaney is fighting to keep his position as he runs low on fuel.
3:04: Kyle Busch’s team reports that the driver has gained a lap by saving fuel. He was reportedly told that he is racing Kurt Busch for the stage win.
3:00: Larson takes the lead from inside and passes Byron before making it to turn three.
2:58: Larson creeps up on Byron and cuts his lead down to under a half-second.
2:50: Kyle Larson passes Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin for third at lap 77.
2:45: Chase Elliott makes his way to the fifth at lap 52.
2:38: Byron keeps his lead coming off the caution followed closely a small pack. Truex Jr. Reddick and Dibenedetto are all fighting for second.
2:32: Multiple drivers are done for the day, including Stenhouse, Newman, Preece, Haley, Ware and Gase. The crash marks the most cars ever 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 huge wreck on the backstretch coming off the competition caution. Kyle Busch escapes with minor damages.
2:24: Byron leads off of 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 at lap 25 followed by Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Kyle Busch.
2:19: Larson holds a two-second lead over Joey Logano with three laps to go before the competition caution.
2:14: Kevin Harvick is seen struggling at 29th. Chase Elliott is creeping up at 22nd after starting from the rear.
2:11: Kyle Larson takes an early lead five laps in followed by Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin.
2:08: The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 is underway in Texas.
2:00: Engines are fired ahead of the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.
1:45: Bowman will also go to the rear for unapproved adjustments.
1:30: Chase Elliott will drop to the rear after failing twice.
NASCAR start time today
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
- Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App, Peacock, fuboTV
The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled to drop at 2:08 p.m. ET.
How to watch NASCAR at Texas
- TV channel: NBC
- Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App, fuboTV
- Radio: PRN
NBC’s programming will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET with the network’s “Countdown to Green” prerace show, hosted by Marty Snider with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Daugherty. Rick Allen will handle the play-by-play call of the race. Earnhardt, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte will provide analysis.
Snider, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman will be the pit reporters. Daugherty will provide additional reporting from around the track.
NASCAR Cup playoff standings
The Round of 8 field was set last weekend with the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Larson exited that race with the win and a 42-point lead over Kyle Busch, the first driver below the cut line for the season-ending Championship 4 race.
The field is bunched tightly after Larson; the second- through sixth-place drivers are separated by just eight points. That closeness makes winning one of the next three races vitally important. A playoff driver who wins a race in the Round of 8 automatically qualifies for the Championship 4 race on Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway.
“You’ve got to be really good. You’ve got to do a good job every lap of every race. You’ve got to get your stage points,” Larson said of the challenge of being the front-runner. “You can’t let your guard down and lose ground on guys that are gaining points on you. Yes, it’s nice to have the (65) bonus points that we have but I’m hoping we don’t have to lean on them like we did at Talladega, or going into (Charlotte).”
Larson finished 37th at Talladega after wrecking. That result cost him more than half his lead over the first driver below the cut line, which was Kevin Harvick for the Charlotte race.
Five past Cup Series champions are in this year’s final eight: Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||4029|
NASCAR starting lineup at Texas
NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. Thirty-nine cars were entered for the race, which is one short of a full field. Playoff drivers are denoted by a “P” next to their names.
Per NASCAR’s playoff rules, the top eight spots in the field went to the eight remaining playoff drivers, but the starting order was based on the mathematical formula NASCAR has used for the majority of its races this season.
|Start pos.||Driver||Car No.||Team|
|1||P-Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2||P-Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||P-Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|4||P-Ryan Blaney||12||Team Penske|
|5||P-Joey Logano||22||Team Penske|
|6||P-Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|7||P-Brad Keselowski||2||Team Penske|
|8||P-Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|9||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|10||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|11||Christopher Bell||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|12||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|13||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|14||Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|15||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|16||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|17||Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|18||Bubba Wallace||23||23XI Racing|
|19||Daniel Suarez||99||TrackHouse Racing|
|20||Cole Custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|21||Erik Jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|22||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|23||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||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|31||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|32||Justin Haley||77||Spire Motorsports|
|33||Josh Bilicki||52||Rick Ware Racing|
|34||Cody Ware||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|35||BJ McLeod||78||Live Fast Motorsports|
|36||Garrett Smithley||15||Rick Ware Racing|
|37||Joey Gase||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|38||David Starr||66||Motorsports Business Management|
|39||Timmy Hill||13||Motorsports Business Management|
Tom Gatto contributed to this report.