The Latest on NASCAR’s playoff elimination race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (all times local):
Kyle Larson has won the first stage of Sunday’s elimination race on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Larson got past pole-sitter William Byron in the first turn of a restart, just seconds before a multi-car crash brought out the caution. The stage ended under the yellow flag.
The first stage was problematic for playoff driver Alex Bowman, who spun and had to stop for a tire change, then had to return to pit road as a penalty for missing a chicane. He also was collected in the final caution of the stage.
Erik Jones headed to the garage with damage from that late accident, likely ending his run in the playoffs after the first round. His car failed inspection after last week’s race and the penalty dropped him to last in the 16-driver standings. Jones likely needed to win at Charlotte to advance to the second round.
Charlotte native William Byron will lead the field to green at home track Charlotte Motor Speedway with his championship chances on the line.
The playoff field of 16 drivers will be cut by four at the end of Sunday’s race and Byron sits in the final transfer spot. He holds a two-point advantage over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, who was in danger of elimination even before he crashed in final practice and had to go to a backup Chevrolet.
Bowman had qualified second for an all-Hendrick Motorsports front row, but going to the backup car requires him to forfeit his starting spot and go to the back of the field.
He’ll be joined by playoff drivers Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. at the back. Hamlin went to a backup after crashing Friday, while Truex needed an engine change. Truex has already advanced to the second round by winning the opening two playoff races.