The NASCAR Cup Series takes to the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway for just the third time in the Bank of America 400
There is a lot at stake on Sunday, and not just for the four playoff drivers who hope to advance to the next round. NASCAR officials could be under the gun to decide the fate of the Bank of America 400. It is on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, better known as the ROVAL, and its a race unlike most of the schedule. It’s generally weatherproof.
Goodyear has tires ready to go if rain hits the track. But even those might not be good enough with the impending remnants from Hurricane Delta. Can stock cars be fitted with water skis? Mother Nature could become the story of the weekend rather than the race itself. The forecast isn’t promising (see below), and that puts the pressure on those officials. Do they hold out hoping the weather gets marginally better, or call it off until Monday?
SUNDAY OR MONDAY?
There is still a race to be run regardless of the day. For the first time, the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s sixth race is at the CMS ROVAL. Before 2020, it hosted the third race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Ryan Blaney won the Playoff event in 2018, and Chase Elliott won a year ago.
Currently, only two drivers have clinched a spot in the Round of 8, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. That leaves ten men to fight it out for six openings. Below the cutoff line is Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola: They are all in a position where they can only get in with a victory or get a lot of help. Busch and Dillon are -21, Bowyer, who just announced he is retiring after the season, is -38, and Almirola at the bottom 48-points in arrears.
WILL KYLE BUSCH RELINQUISH HIS TITLE THIS WEEKEND?
Kyle Busch may be the biggest surprise. He is in the midst of the worst season of his Cup Series career, having gone winless with six DNFs, including his latest one a week ago at Talladega. There are times where it looked like Busch has the best car, only to make a mistake, like speeding on pit row or being involved in one mishap or another. He has come back from the rear of the field numerous times only to come up short or get involved in someone else’s mess.
If Busch is to advance, he will need to win on tracks where he has had recent troubles. Overall, he has found victory lane four times in 33 starts on road courses, but his last one was at Sonoma in 2015. Now he tackles the ROVAL where if it weren’t for bad luck, he wouldn’t have any. In two previous tries, he’s recorded a P32 in 2018 and P37 and was in the garage when the checkered flag fell. He is going to flip that script if he plans on repeating as champion.
Denny Hamlin (pole) and Chase Elliott will lead the field to green. The entire starting grid is below.
HERE IS A LOOK AT THE BANK OF AMERICA 400 – BY THE NUMBERS
RACE NUMBER: Playoffs Round of 12, Race 3
WHAT: Bank of America 400
WHERE: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 11 @ 2:30 p.m. ET
TV/RADIO: NBC / PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
TRACK SIZE: 2.28-mile, 17 turn road course
BANKING: Corners 2-14⁰ / Straights 0-5⁰
FRONTSTRETCH / BACKSTRETCH:
RACE LENGTH: 400 Kilometers / 252.88 miles (109 laps)
STAGES: 25 / 50 / 109
SEATING CAPACITY: 86,000
WEATHER: Thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. High 76F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%.
ODDS (From VegasInsider):
5/2 Chase Elliott
7/1 Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr.
15/2 Denny Hamlin
FIRST RACE: Sept. 30, 2018
OWNER: Speedway Motorsports
NICKNAMES: The Beast of the Southeast
/ 1 day ago
The Hollywood Casino 400 was the first race in the Round of 8, and...
/ 2 days ago
NASCAR officials have confirmed that Kyle Larson has asked for a chance to return...