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Kyle Busch moves to No. 5 seed from No. 15; Byron still No. 1

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 17: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Mars Crunchy Cookie Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, TENN. — Kyle Busch earned his 60th NASCAR Cup Series win in surprising fashion over Tyler Reddick in Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch led just one lap and won after finishing fifth in each stage, which vaulted him from 10th to sixth in the regular-season points and from the No. 15 playoff seed to the No. 5 seed.

Tyler Reddick led a career-high 99 laps but came up one spot short of his first Cup win. A final-lap, final-turn spin with Chase Briscoe took him out of the win and five playoff points.

Before the spin, Reddick and Briscoe were set to finish 1-2 which would’ve put Reddick into a tie with Joey Logano for the No. 8 seed. Instead, Reddick has the No. 13 seed while Logano and Kyle Larson are tied for the No. 7 seed.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 17: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Logano and Larson finished third and fourth, respectively. Larson led 27 laps and won stage one while Chase Briscoe led 59 laps and won stage two.

Briscoe finished 22nd after a final-lap, final-turn slide job went awry while racing Reddick for the win. Briscoe lost 20 points in the final corner, dropping him from seventh in the regular-season points to 10th – and from a possible No. 5 seed to the No. 10 seed after Bristol dirt.

Austin Dillon was set for his third-straight top-10 finish until a mechanical failure knocked him out of the race on Lap 213 and to a 31st-place finish. Even seven points in stage one didn’t curtail a fall from 15th in regular-season points, +10 points for a playoff spot – to 17th, 10 points out of a playoff spot.

Dillon was replaced by Christopher Bell, who jumped from 19th, 24 points out of a playoff spot – to 15th, +8 points for a playoff spot ahead of 16th-place Daniel Suarez.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 16: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Mars Crunchy Cookie Toyota, race during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 16, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Bell earned the No. 16 seed with a seventh-place finish after earning eight points for third-place in stage one and nine points for second-place in stage two.

Bell’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, finished second-to-last – in 35th – after blowing an engine on Lap 91 and earning no stage points.

Hamlin dropped two spots, to 23rd, in the regular-season points and remains the only driver outside of the top 16 with a win after nine races in 2022.

Aric Almirola and teammate Kevin Harvick each fell out of the top 10 in the regular-season points.

Almirola finished 23rd and dropped from eighth (three playoff points) to 12th in the regular-season points. He was involved in the Lap 213 incident with Dillon.

Teammate Kevin Harvick finished 34th and dropped from ninth (two playoff points) to 13th. He was knocked out of the race after a multi-car wreck on Lap 99.

Kyle Larson and Chase Briscoe reentered the top 10 in regular-season points in ninth (two playoff points) and 10th (one playoff point) respectively.

Photo by Dominic Aragon/TRE

PLAYOFF POINTS EXPLAINED

Each win is worth five playoff points, each stage win is worth one playoff point.

The top 10 drivers in regular season points each earn playoff points for their points position at the end of the regular season: 1st – 15 points, 2nd – 10, 3rd – 8, 4th – 7, 5th – 6, 6th – 5, 7th – 4, 8th – 3, 9th – 2, 10th – 1.

DriverPlayoff Points TotalBase PointsPoints Position/PointsRace Wins (5 Pts/Win)Stage Wins (1 Pt/Win)
William Byron201920007 (4th)2 (Atlanta and Martinsville)2 (Atlanta – Stage 1, Phoenix – Stage 1
Chase Elliott2017200015 (1st)2 (Martinsville – Stages 1 & 2)
Ryan Blaney2013200010 (2nd)3 (Richmond – Stage 1, Atlanta – Stage 2, Phoenix – Stage 2)
Alex Bowman201220006 (5th)1 (Las Vegas)1 (Las Vegas – Stage 1)
Kyle Busch201020005 (6th)1 (Bristol Dirt)
Ross Chastain200920003 (8th)1 (COTA)1 (Las Vegas – Stage 2)
Joey Logano200820008 (3rd)
Kyle Larson200820002 (9th)1 (Auto Club)1 (Bristol Dirt)
Martin Truex Jr.200720004 (7th)3 (Daytona 500 –Stages 1 & 2, Richmond – Stage 2)
Chase Briscoe200720001 (10th)1 (Phoenix)1 (Bristol Dirt)
Denny Hamlin200620000 (23rd)1 (Richmond)(COTA – Stage 2)
Austin Cindric200520000 (14th)1 (Daytona 500)
Tyler Reddick200220000 (11th)2 (Auto Club – Stages 1 & 2)
Aric Almirola200020000 (12th)
Kevin Harvick200020000 (13th)
Christopher Bell200020000 (15th)

WHO’S IN? WHO’S OUT?

Austin Cindric, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are virtually locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as each driver has won at least one race. Each driver must stay above 30th in points to get into the playoffs with a win.

Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell are the non-winner drivers currently locked into the playoffs.

NASCAR Cup Series regular-season points standings after Race No. 9, the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway:

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 15: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, drive during first practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 15, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

bold denotes driver currently locked into the playoffs
italics denotes driver currently outside of the playoffs

1. Chase Elliott 324 points (+112 ahead of Daniel Suarez)
2. Ryan Blaney 321 (+109)

3. Joey Logano 303 (+91)
4. William Byron 295 (2 wins)
5. Alex Bowman 273 (1 win)

6. Kyle Busch 273 (1 win)
7. Martin Truex Jr. 253 (+41)
8. Ross Chastain 250 (1 win)
9. Kyle Larson 249 (1 win)
10. Chase Briscoe 245 (1 win)
11. Tyler Reddick 241 (+29)
12. Aric Almirola 237 (+25)

13. Kevin Harvick 225 (+13)
14. Austin Cindric 222 (1 win)
15. Christopher Bell 220 (+8 to Daniel Suarez for a playoff spot)
16. Daniel Suarez 212 (-8 points out of a playoff spot)
17. Austin Dillon 210 (-10)
18. Chris Buescher 195 (-25)
19. Erik Jones 194 (-26)
20. Kurt Busch 192 (-28)
21. Ty Dillon 166 (-54)
22. Bubba Wallace 163 (-57)
23. Denny Hamlin 159 (1 win)
24. Cole Custer 159 (-61)
25. Justin Haley 158 (-62)
26. Michael McDowell 152 (-68)
27. Todd Gilliland 132 (-88)

28. Harrison Burton 127 (-93)
29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 120 (-100)
30. Brad Keselowski 118 (-102)*

–Must be Top-30 in points to win-and-get-in to the playoffs–
31. Corey LaJoie 117 (-103)
32. Cody Ware 79 (-141)

*After the March 20 race at Atlanta, Brad Keselowski received a 100-point penalty in the regular season points and a 10-playoff point penalty. Without the penalty, Keselowski would be 16th in points – out of a playoff position by two points behind Bell.

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the April 24 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Last April, Brad Keselowski earned five playoff points for winning the GEICO 500, which locked him into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Keselowski made a final-lap pass on Matt DiBenedetto, who won stage one but, along with stage two winner Bubba Wallace, did not make the playoffs – thus nullifying the one playoff point each driver earned last April at Talladega.

Bubba Wallace redeemed himself as he earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in the October 4 YellaWood 500 at Talladega.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 04: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 04, 2021 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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