DARLINGTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 01: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Caramel Toyota, speaks with Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 BassProShops/TrackerBoats40thAnv Toyota, in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 1, 2017 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Big names facing elimination if they don't improve after the first playoff race in Chicagoland


Martin Truex's win during the first playoff race at Chicagoland automatically earned him a berth in the Round of 12, and he now has 58 playoff points this season.

Related: Championship contender dominated the first stage of the playoffs

Truex tops the playoff leaderboard after once race, and he has a comfortable lead over second-place Kyle Larson. Larson is followed by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

The first three rounds of the playoffs are three rounds each, and four drivers are eliminated each round. If the first round ended today, the four drivers facing elimination would be Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.

The good news for any playoff driver is that one win in a round automatically qualifies you for the next round. So one bad race isn't the end of the world, but chances are already running out for the championship contenders.

Nine races remain in the season, and two races remain in the first round. The next race is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 24 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET.