The NASCAR Cup Series postseason field has been cut in half from its original number.
Eight drivers survived the first two stages of the playoffs to reach the final three-race stage of the postseason, which begins on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
The eight drivers will battle at Texas, Kansas and Martinsville over the next three weeks for four playoff spots.
The top four competitors after Martinsville will battle it out for the playoff crown at Phoenix on November 7.
Larson, Hamlin, Truex and Blaney start the round of eight in the four qualifying positions. Busch is one point back of Blaney, Elliott is two points behind the cut, Logano is 11 points adrift and Keselowski needs to make up a 16-point gap between himself and Blaney.
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Kyle Larson (+340; bet $100 to win $340)
Denny Hamlin (+600)
Kyle Busch (+700)
Chase Elliott (+750)
Martin Truex Jr. (+900)
Ryan Blaney (+900)
Joey Logano (+1200)
Kevin Harvick (+1400)
William Byron (+1600)
Brad Keselowski (+1800)
Alex Bowman (+2000)
The NASCAR Cup Series is making its second trip to Texas this season but its first for a points race.
The Cup Series visited Texas back in June for the All-Star Race, which was won by Larson.
Larson has to be viewed as the favorite to capture the postseason title. He has a win in each postseason round and has been the most consistent driver on the circuit all season long.
Larson comes into Texas off a victory on the Charlotte road course. He also won at Bristol in the final race of the round of 16.
Hamlin matched Larson's performance with a win to kick off the round of 16 and round of 12. He won at Darlington and Las Vegas to secure safe passage to the next rounds.
Hamlin landed in ninth place in the Cup Series' last points race at Texas in October 2020. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Busch and Truex went one-two at that event.
Larson and Hamlin are in the best positions possible to advance to the championship round on points. Larson owns a 35-point gap on Hamlin, who is seven points above the cut line.
If the two drivers continue at their current pace, they should make up half of the championship contenders in a few weeks.
All it takes is one win by a driver in the bottom four, or a poor day at the track, to rearrange the postseason picture.
Busch is the reigning champion at Texas. He has four career wins at the track. If he goes back-to-back, or benefits from his strong history at the track, he could leap into the top four.
Since 2017, Busch, Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson are the only drivers to win points races at Texas. There were multiple races at the track up until this season.
Dillon won the first trip to Texas last season. Busch took fourth in that race behind Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Logano last July.
Logano is the other driver in the bottom four to watch. He has nine top-10 finishes at Texas in his last 10 races at the track. At +1200, Logano carries some of the best value to win the race.
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