Who Will Win Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400
Martin Truex Jr.
He has four wins on road courses so he has to be a favorite. Truex, went through a stretch starting at Watkins Glen in 2017, with a win or a runner-up in six of seven starts on road courses. The only reason it wasn’t a perfect 7-for-7 was he was crashed while leading coming to the final turn in 2018 on the ROVAL. He finished third on the Daytona road course back in August too.
He has one road course win but 11 top 10’s in his last 14 starts on them including a top seven effort in all three road courses a year ago and a top 10 in all three in 2018 as well.
He’s won four times in 11 road course starts including three straight. He won at Watkins Glen the last two years and on the ROVAL in Charlotte last year and the Daytona road course this year too.
He doesn’t necessarily think of himself as a road course ringer, but Blaney won on the ROVAL in 2018 and has four top eight finishes in his last five starts on road courses overall.
A playoff wildcard driver could steal a win this weekend. Bowyer, has six top six finishes in his last nine road course starts. He was in the top five in both ROVAL races thus far too.
He was in the top 11 in all three road course races last year with Leavine Family Racing. He finished 15th at Daytona.
Bank of America ROVAL 400 Race Preview
The final race of the Round of 12 is here. Talladega was always the scariest and most tense race of the playoffs and that’s now in the rear view mirror. Now, these drivers have one race left to position themselves into the Round of 8 or not.
Two drivers (Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin) move on by virtue of their wins the last two weeks in Las Vegas and Talladega. One guaranteed spot is open for the taking this weekend. Will a playoff driver take it or will someone outside of the top 12 in the standings win instead?
By all accounts, this is likely Martin Truex Jr. or Chase Elliott’s race to lose. They’re the best on road courses in general right now. They’ve combined to win eight of the last nine on them overall including Elliott’s triumph on the Daytona road course this past August. Truex, finished third that day.
The only road course race that they didn’t win during this dominant span is on the ROVAL in Charlotte in 2018. Truex, was leading on the final lap heading into the final turn but was crashed by Jimmie Johnson. That’s it.
So, look for one of them to stamp their name into the third round by a win.
But, in this format from 2014 on though, five of the six years have seen someone below the cutline heading into the Round of 12 finale bump their ways back in. The difference in this year and the past, no one as many points as Busch, Dillon, Almirola of Bowyer back moved back in.
In 2014, Kyle Busch was +26 in second in the standings and got eliminated. He finished 40th at Talladega that day.
In 2015, Denny Hamlin was +18 heading to Talladega. He too was second in the standings. He got eliminated as he finished 37th.
In 2016, Martin Truex Jr. was +13 going to Talladega. That was good enough for sixth in the points. He finished 40th and got eliminated.
In 2017, Kyle Larson was +29 (3rd place) going to Kansas and blew and engine to finish 39th. He was eliminated.
Finally, last year, Brad Keselowski was +9 in fifth in the standings and got eliminated after a 19th place finish at Kansas.
The largest margin that someone overcame was Brad Keselowski in 2014 who was 19 points back going to Talladega and won. Chase Elliott last year was the largest one to come back from outside the top eight but to have not won as he was 15 points back and got his way in. Kyle Busch was seven points back in 2017 and six back in 2015 and Denny Hamlin six points back in 2016.
So, the path is there for someone not to win to get in, but if Busch, Dillon, Bowyer and Almirola are going to do so, they’re going to have to be historic in being the one to come back from outside to in without winning by the largest margin yet.
They likely all four need to win.
Busch, Bowyer and Almirola haven’t won all season. In fact, Bowyer and Almirola haven’t won since 2018 either.
With the way that this season is going, it’s likely someone at the top of the playoff standings wins.
Here’s the winless streaks for the 12 playoff drivers in order of how they sit right now – 0, 1, 2, 3, 20, 8, 18, 27, 31, 13, 88, 72.
It’s as if this is playing out like it was supposed to. The final two drivers on the cut line won the final two races before the pandemic and haven’t won since.
Bowman, does have five top 10 finishes in his last seven tries. He had four in the previous 19 races. On the ROVAL, he finished fourth and second respectively.
Elliott and Truex are above him and have won seven of the last eight road course races. Elliott and Bowman went 1-2 in this race last year.
They appear safe.
Logano has eight top 10 finishes in the last 12 races on the season. He hasn’t had a top five in his last nine Road course starts but can just maintain.
Busch, finished 32nd and 37th in his two ROVAL starts. He was also 37th at Daytona back in August too.
Dillon, was 39th and 23rd on the ROVAL.
Almirola was 19th and 14th himself. He hasn’t won in 72 races.
Bowyer, is the best chance of bumping his way in, with two top fives in as many ROVAL starts and six top sixes in his last nine road course starts, but he’s failed to score a top five in his last 22 starts on the season too. He also hasn’t won in his last 88 starts too.
Betting The Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL
Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott are the best on road courses in general right now. They’ve combined to win eight of the last nine on them. The only one that they didn’t win are the ROVAL in Charlotte in 2018 in which Truex was leading on the final lap heading into the final turn but was crashed by Jimmie Johnson. That’s it.
Starting position hasn’t mattered yet either. The two winners have started ninth and 19th respectively.
The winner in both years won the second stage of the race and was 10th and ninth respectively in Stage 1.