As NASCAR’s playoffs prepare to enter the third round, only the Bank of America ROVAL 400 remains in the second round. Ryan Blaney became the second driver to punch his ticket to the Round of Eight by virtue of his victory at Talladega. Before we preview Sunday’s race, let’s take a look at the playoff picture.
As mentioned above, Ryan Blaney punched his ticket to the Round of Eight with his win at Talladega. Blaney joins William Byron as a winner in the second round. This means just six spots remain up for grabs when NASCAR’s best take on the Roval.
Playoff Picture Ahead of Bank of America Roval 400
- William Byron – Locked In
- Ryan Blaney – Locked In
- Denny Hamlin – 50 Points Above Cut Line
- Christopher Bell – 22 Points Above Cut Line
- Chris Buescher – 19 Points Above Cut Line
- Martin Truex Jr. – 17 Points Above Cut Line
- Kyle Larson – 15 Points Above Cut Line
- Brad Keselowski – 2 Points Above Cut Line
- Tyler Reddick – 2 Points Below Cut Line
- Bubba Wallace – 9 Points Below Cut Line
- Ross Chastain – 10 Points Below Cut Line
- Kyle Busch – 26 Points Below Cut Line
With Blaney locking himself into the second round, obviously, an update to my predictions is in order. Of the current bottom four both Ross Chastain and Bubba Wallace tend to struggle at road courses – though Chastain possesses a COTA victory, I don’t see him replicating the magic here. I don’t think Wallace finds much luck at Charlotte either.
Kyle Busch is generally thought of as a decent road racer but he hasn’t found victory lane at a road course track in the Cup series since Sonoma in 2015. I don’t think it’s likely Busch will break out of that slump on Sunday and he likely needs a win to advance. Kyle Busch doesn’t advance to the Round of Eight.
Finally, we come to the driver closest to the cut line. Reddick won at Circuit of the Americas earlier this year and likely represents the driver below the cut line most likely to advance with a win. However, I don’t think he’ll need a win Sunday as Brad Keselowski sits just two points above Reddick in the final third round spot. Unfortunately for Keselowski, road courses are not his strong suit. Reddick jumps Keselowski in points at Charlotte and the owner of RFK is eliminated.
The Charlotte Roval doesn’t attract too many road course ringers but Andy Lally and Mike Rockenfeller will both be in the field come Sunday. Additionally, Zane Smith and Austin Hill will be coming up from the Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series to race on Sunday.
Much like last week’s race at Talladega, predicting the result of the race on Sunday represents a bit of a conundrum. Incidents outside of the control of the drivers can often play a big role in who is left at the end.
With that being said, the driver most consistently near the front this round of the playoffs is the driver of the #24. William Byron seems like a good pick for Sunday’s race.
Be sure to check out the schedule below so you don’t miss any on-track action!
NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – 9:30 a.m. CT on NBC Sports Streaming
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 12:00 p.m. CT on USA
Drive for the Cure 250 presented by BCBS (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 2:00 p.m. CT on NBC
Bank of America ROVAL 400 (NASCAR Cup Series) – 1:00 p.m. CT on NBC