Mario Lopez Partners With NASCAR to Promote, Explain Playoffs

The NASCAR playoffs started on Sunday night with the Southern 500, which Kevin Harvick won to secure his spot in the second round. This race and the playoff format created questions among fans, and now racing's governing body is using a popular figure to provide those answers. Mario Lopez took part in a collaboration video and explained both the playoff system and the sport of bocce.

"The NASCAR regular season is 26 races, with 40 drivers looking for the trophy every time out," Lopez said in the video. "If they win, they are in the playoffs and closer to the big pallino. Those without wins can still get in based on the points standings." These points are actually how such drivers as Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer worked their way into the playoffs.

Simply securing a spot in the playoffs doesn't guarantee much, however, considering that drivers are still on the playoff bubble. There are three races featuring 16 championship hopefuls, but that number dwindles to 12. The cuts continue after another three races, dropping the number to 8. Three races after that, there are only four drivers remaining with the opportunity to win the championship trophy.

In order to remain alive in the hunt, the drivers have to stack up points or win races. Harvick entered the playoffs with bonus points due to his seven victories and regular-season championship. Winning the Southern 500 simply guaranteed that he would move further into the playoffs.

Austin Dillon, on the other hand, needed a strong performance to keep his championship hopes alive. He finished in second place and jumped to eighth in the Cup standings. With this strong finish, he sits well above the cutoff line while drivers such as Cole Custer and Matt DiBenedetto fight to stay alive.

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As the playoffs continue, NASCAR will continue tapping top celebrity talent to provide information for the fans. The trend started with the hype videos for each driver that featured Nelly, Christian McCaffrey, Baker Mayfield and Eric Stonestreet among others. It continued with Lopez explaining the playoffs. Others will soon join, but NASCAR has not provided their identities just yet.

While they wait, the fans will continue to express excitement about the ongoing playoffs and their favorite drivers. The next race in the playoff series takes place at Richmond, one of the more difficult tracks in NASCAR. This race takes place on Saturday night on NBC Sports.