NASCAR Richmond Auto Racing

William Byron (24) and Kyle Busch (18) race into turn one during the NASCAR Cup series auto race in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Hendrick Motorsports is in a precarious position heading into first playoff elimination round. Both Alex Bowman and William Byron begin Saturday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway below the cutline and in danger of not advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Four drivers will be cut from the 16-driver field. Reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott, also a Hendrick driver, isn't safe, either. He's only got a 19-point cushion. Regular-season champion Kyle Larson has already clinched a second-round berth, as has Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. on consecutive JGR wins to open the playoffs.

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