CONCORD, North Carolina — The time is here. Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN) at Charlotte will set who makes the Round of 8. Right now, just 1 driver has clinched his way in. While Chase Elliott will get company with 7 more of his peers advancing to the third round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs upon the drop of the checkered flag at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the question remains, will 1 of the 7 guarantee their way in via a trip through victory lane?
Odds are it’s going to come from a top 10 starter. Each road course race has seen the eventual winner improve upon their starting position nearly every time.
Ross Chastain won from 16th in COTA. Daniel Suarez won from 8th in Sonoma. Tyler Reddick then won from 4th in Road America and on the pole at Indy. Kyle Larson won from the front row in Watkins Glen.
Only once in the 4 year history of this race though has someone started in the top 5 and won and that was Elliott in 2020 (he started 2nd). 3 of the 4 winners however did come from the top 10 so it’s a safe bet that none of the drivers who don’t advance to the 2nd and final round of qualifying on Saturday will win a day later.
Also, never has a non playoff driver won this race on the ROVAL and to narrow it down further, Chevrolet drivers have won all the road courses this year and is looking to end the season on twistys 6-for-6. They’re riding a streak of 11 straight road course wins at that.
- 9 Elliott – Why not? He’s due on a road course and has won 2 of the last 3 here.
- 1 Chastain – Starts in the top 10 and was 1st in COTA this year, 7th in Sonoma and 4th in Road America. He crossed the finish line 2nd at Indy before his penalty was levied and only 21st in Watkins Glen. I still like him on these tracks.
- 34 McDowell – Another top 11 finish. He has 5 in his last 11 starts on the season including a 3rd place run last week in Talladega. Also, McDowell has 4 top 10’s on road courses this season.
- 22 Logano – He has had a top 10 in all four ROVAL starts including a runner-up in 2020. He was 6th in Indy and 3rd in Watkins Glen too.
- 99 Suarez – He won Sonoma led every lap of the 1st stage in COTA, was 5th in Road America and lined up 5th on the final restart in Indy and finished 5th in Watkins Glen.