Viewer guide to the 10-race play­offs

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Heather Tucker

FIRST ROUND

Chicagoland Speed­way Sept. 17

3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net­work

1.5-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: Martin Truex Jr. Fast fact: First of five 1.5-mile tracks on the slate. New Hamp­shire Mo­tor Speed­way Sept. 24

2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net­work

1.058-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: Kevin Harvick

Fast fact: This is the last time this venue will host a play­off race. NASCAR gave the fall date to Las Ve­gas Mo­tor Speed­way, start­ing next year. Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way Oct. 1

2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net­work

1-mile lay­out

Last year’s win­ner: Martin Truex Jr.

Fast fact: Jim­mie John­son leads all ac­tive driv­ers with 11 wins here. Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman are the next clos­est, with three. Elim­i­na­tion race: Four of the 16 driv­ers will be ousted.

SEC­OND ROUND

Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way Oct. 7

2 p.m. ET, NBC

1.5-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: Jim­mie John­son

Fast fact: Next sea­son, the play­off race will be held on Char­lotte’s road course, help­ing sat­isfy driv­ers’ and fans’ re­quest for more va­ri­ety in the post­sea­son. Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way Oct. 15

2 p.m. ET, NBC

2.66-mile lay­out

Last year’s win­ner: Joey Logano Fast fact: Al­ways the wild-card race, many tal­ented driv­ers with points leads have been elim­i­nated from ti­tle con­tention here. The re­stric­tor-plate track leads to un­pre­dictable out­comes and some nail-bit­ing rac­ing. NASCAR moved this race to the mid­dle of the round this sea­son. Kansas Speed­way Oct. 22

3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net­work

1.5-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: Kevin Harvick

Fast fact: There have been 23 Cup races here, and 12 have been won by driv­ers in this year’s field. Truex won the spring race. Elim­i­na­tion race: Four of the 12 driv­ers will be ousted here.

THIRD ROUND

Martinsville Speed­way Oct. 29

3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net­work

.533-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: John­son Fast fact: John­son leads all ac­tive driv­ers with nine vic­to­ries at the pa­per-clip shaped venue. Texas Mo­tor Speed­way Nov. 5

2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net­work

1.5-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: Carl Ed­wards

Fast fact: John­son has won six of the last 10 races here. If he needs a vic­tory to ad­vance to the fi­nal four, there might be no stop­ping him in Fort Worth. Phoenix Race­way Nov. 12

2:30 p.m. ET, NBC

1-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: Joey Logano

Fast fact: NASCAR’s 14-time most pop­u­lar driver didn’t qual­ify for the play­offs, but Dale Earn­hardt Jr.’s last Cup win came here in a rain-short­ened af­fair in 2015. Elim­i­na­tion race: Four of the eight driv­ers will be ousted here and points will be re­set, set­ting up the win­ner-take-all fi­nale.

CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Home­stead-Mi­ami Speed­way Nov. 19

2:30 p.m. ET, NBC

1.5-mile lay­out Last year’s win­ner: John­son Last year’s cham­pion: John­son

Fast fact: In the last three years, this race has been the gate­way to the ti­tle. Harvick, Busch and John­son all had to win here to claim the crown.

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