Editor‘s note: With Champion‘s Week in Nashville ongoing, NASCAR.com will look back at every playoff round of the 2022 season in all three national series.
Race 1: At Darlington Raceway, Sept. 4
Winner: Erik Jones
Key highlights: The opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs plagued numerous title contenders, including Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Busch‘s motor expired while leading under caution with 23 laps to go, opening the door for Jones to charge to the win in the Petty GMS No. 43 Chevrolet for his third career win.
Full race recap: Erik Jones pulls off Southern 500 stunner in upset win at Darlington
At-track photos: Best pictures from Darlington
Race 2: At Kansas Speedway, Sept. 11
Winner: Bubba Wallace
Key highlights: Playoff woes continued again for championship hopefuls, including Kyle Busch who spun off Turn 4; Kevin Harvick who crashed early; and Tyler Reddick, whose flat right-rear tire sent him into the wall and ended his day. With one of the quickest cars of the weekend, Wallace led the final 43 laps en route to the victory over his 23XI Racing team owner Denny Hamlin, who finished second in consecutive weeks.
Full race recap: Bubba Wallace plays playoff spoiler, surges to Kansas win
At-track photos: Best pictures from Kansas
Race 3: At Bristol Motor Speedway, Sept. 17
Winner: Chris Buescher
Key highlights: Buescher‘s victory completed a clean sweep of non-playoff drivers to win the opening round of the postseason, but not without more issues for the title contenders. Kyle Busch‘s playoffs came to an abrupt end with another engine failure; Austin Dillon failed to advance after getting caught up in a crash; Joey Logano‘s day ended with a mechanical problem.
At-track photos: Best pictures from Bristol
Drivers eliminated: Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick