NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

The intense NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 comes down to this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course for the Bank of America ROVAL 400 elimination race at 2 p.m. ET this Sunday on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). The 12-driver Playoff field will be cut to eight as four driver’s title hopes will come to an end this weekend. Ever since the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course has joined the NASCAR Cup Series postseason in 2018, it has proven to be a wildcard event with twists and turns that challenge the competitors along its multi-elevational 2.32-miles.

Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959 and the track’s first NASCAR Cup Series race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson in a Chevrolet. But it wasn’t until 2017, the track underwent renovations to add what is now known as the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (ROVAL) a 2.32-mile, 17-turn, multi-elevational road course. The Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course has hosted a total of three NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races, occupying two spots on the postseason schedule – from 2018-2019 Charlotte RC hosted the third race in the Playoffs and in 2020 the sixth race. The 2021 season marks just second-time the track has hosted the sixth race in the postseason.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course is the fourth different track to host the sixth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004-Present); joining Martinsville Speedway (2004-2010), Talladega Superspeedway (2011, 2013-2016) and Kansas Speedway (2012, 2017-2019).

From 2018-2019, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course hosted the third race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Ryan Blaney won the event in 2018 and Chase Elliott won in 2019.

A total of 10 different drivers have won the sixth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson with four victories – all at Martinsville Speedway (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008). Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers with three victories (2009, 2010 at Martinsville and 2019 at Kansas) in the sixth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Chase Elliott leads all active drivers in Charlotte ROVAL wins with two (2019, 2020).


Next Race: Bank of America ROVAL 400


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The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

The Date: Sunday, October 10

The Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 1 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 252.88 miles (109 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 50), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 109)


NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Race No. 6 Winners
Track Race Winner Date
Charlotte RC Chase Elliott Sunday, October 11, 2020
Kansas Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 20, 2019
Kansas Chase Elliott Sunday, October 21, 2018
Kansas Martin Truex Jr Sunday, October 22, 2017
Talladega Joey Logano Sunday, October 23, 2016
Talladega Joey Logano Sunday, October 25, 2015
Talladega Brad Keselowski Sunday, October 19, 2014
Talladega Jamie McMurray Sunday, October 20, 2013
Kansas Matt Kenseth Sunday, October 21, 2012
Talladega Clint Bowyer Sunday, October 23, 2011
Martinsville Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 24, 2010
Martinsville Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 25, 2009
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 19, 2008
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 21, 2007
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 22, 2006
Martinsville Jeff Gordon Sunday, October 23, 2005
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 24, 2004

Five-times the winner of the sixth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the title later that season; once at Kansas Speedway, three-times at Martinsville Speedway and once at the Charlotte ROVAL:

  • In 2006, Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title later that season.

  • In 2007, Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title later that season.

  • In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his third consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title later that season.

  • In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won at Kansas, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title later that season.

  • In 2020, Chase Elliott won at the Charlotte Road Course, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title later that season. It was the first of his three wins during the 2021 postseason.

The worst finish by a driver in the sixth Playoff race that went on to win the series title was:

  • At Kansas Speedway (2012, 2017-2019) – Brad Keselowski in 2012 and Joey Logano in 2018 each finished eighth in the sixth race of the Playoffs at Kansas Speedway and then went on to win the title later those same seasons.

  • At Talladega Superspeedway (2011, 2013-2016) – Jimmie Johnson in 2016 finished 23rd in the sixth race of the Playoffs at Talladega Superspeedway and went on to win the title later that season.

  • At Martinsville Speedway (2004-2010) – Jimmie Johnson in 2010 and Kurt Busch in 2004 each finished fifth in the sixth race of the Playoffs at Martinsville Speedway and then went on to win the title later that same season.

When the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course hosted the third race in the Playoffs (2018-2019) the winner in 2019, Chase Elliott, finished the season 10th in the final championship standings and the 2018 ROVAL winner, Ryan Blaney, finished the season 10th in the final standings as well.

Three non-Playoff drivers have won the sixth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs:

  • Jeff Gordon (2005) won the Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway he was ranked 15th in the series standings at the time of the win.

  • Clint Bowyer (2011) won the Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway he was ranked 13th in the series standings at the time of the win.

  • Jamie McMurray (2013) won the Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway he was ranked 14th in the series standings at the time of the win.

 

This weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course will be 109 laps (252.88 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first to stages will be 25 laps each and the final stage is scheduled for 59 laps. This weekend’s starting lineup was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin will start from the pole and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski will join him on the front row.

Clinch Scenarios: Making the Playoffs’ Round of 8

The Bank of America ROVAL 400 (Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the last chance for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contenders to secure their spot in the Round of 8. Only one driver has locked themselves into the Round of 8 – Denny Hamlin – heading into this weekend leaving 11 drivers vying for just seven positions.

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round: Denny Hamlin.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 8th winless driver in the standings.  The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott or Kyle Busch.

  • Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 34 points
  • Joey Logano: Would clinch with 35 points
  • Brad Keselowski: Would clinch with 35 points
  • Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 36 points
  • Ryan Blaney: Would clinch with 41 points
  • Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 47 points
  • Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 47 points
  • Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Alex Bowman: Could all only clinch with help.

If there is a new winner from Kevin Harvick or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 7th winless driver in the standings.

  • Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 41 points
  • Joey Logano: Would clinch with 42 points
  • Brad Keselowski: Would clinch with 43 points
  • Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 43 points
  • Ryan Blaney: Would clinch with 48 points
  • Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 53 points
  • Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 54 points
  • Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Alex Bowman: Could all only clinch with help.

 

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend: Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron, Alex Bowman.

Chase Elliott’s road course playground – The ROVAL

With a win this weekend, Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott could tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart for the second-most road course wins all-time in the NASCAR Cup Series with eight victories each. Elliott enters this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course leading all active drivers in road course wins with seven; including two earlier this season at the Circuit of The Americas (Austin, Texas) and Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin).

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Cup Series in overall road course wins with nine victories (Sonoma, five; Watkins Glen, four); followed by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in second with eight road course wins (Watkins Glen, five; Sonoma, three). Chase Elliott is ranked in third with seven of his 13 career NASCAR Cup Series wins coming on road courses (Watkins Glen, two; Charlotte ROVAL, two; Daytona RC, one; COTA, one; Road America, one).

Looking to this weekend at the Charlotte ROVAL, Elliott is clearly the favorite. He leads all active drivers in road course wins (seven) and wins at the Charlotte Road Course (two). In three starts at the Charlotte Road Course, Elliott has put up two wins, two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish of 2.667 is the series-best. Plus, he leads the series in every key pre-race Loop Data category: Average Running Position of 8.028, series-best, Driver Rating of 124.5, series-best, 49 Fastest Laps Run, series-best, 278 Laps in the Top 15 (85.0%), series-most and 111 Quality Passes, series-most. He has also led the most laps in the series at the 2.32-mile track collecting 62 laps out front.

Elliott will start eighth in this weekend’s Bank of America ROVAL 400.

Playoff Bubble: Bowman, Byron, Bell and Harvick facing elimination

It all comes down to this one last race for the drivers facing elimination this weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The Playoff challengers below the Round of 8 cutline will have to showcase their best skills this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course if they want to move on in the postseason.

Following a wild Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race last weekend, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (-9 points), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell (-28), Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron (-44) and Hendrick Motorsport’s Alex Bowman (-52) all find themselves below the Playoffs’ Round of 8 cutline and will have their work cut out for them this weekend at Charlotte.

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Talladega Superspeedway
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Denny Hamlin (P) 3,116 2 10 30 In On Wins
2 Kyle Larson (P) 3,097 6 15 60 22
3 Joey Logano (P) 3,096 1 5 13 21
4 Brad Keselowski (P) 3,095 1 2 8 20
5 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3,095 4 5 29 20
6 Ryan Blaney (P) 3,090 3 4 24 15
7 Chase Elliott (P) 3,084 2 3 21 9
8 Kyle Busch (P) 3,084 2 5 22 9
9 Kevin Harvick (P) 3,075 0 0 2 -9
10 Christopher Bell (P) 3,056 1 0 5 -28
11 William Byron (P) 3,040 1 3 14 -44
12 Alex Bowman (P) 3,032 3 0 15 -52
13 Kurt Busch 2,146 1 3 8 Eliminated from the Playoffs
14 Tyler Reddick 2,125 0 3 3
15 Aric Almirola 2,104 1 0 5
16 Michael McDowell 2,064 1 0 5

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (3,075 points) is nine points back from the Playoffs’ Round of 8 cutoff in the first spot outside the cutline (ninth). Harvick has made three starts at the Charlotte Road Course posting one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 7.667. Harvick has advanced out of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 12 in every postseason since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014 and is looking to make it eight consecutive seasons this year.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell (3,056 points) in his first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs finds himself in 10th in the Round of 12 standings 28 points back from the cutline as the series heads to Charlotte for the second elimination race of the postseason. Bell has yet to win at the Charlotte Road Course, but his first Cup win of his career came on road course earlier this season at Daytona. In Bell’s Cup Series career debut last season at the ROVAL he started 35th and finished 24th.

Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron (3,040 points) is currently 11th in the Playoff standings 44 points back from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch (3,084 points) in eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings – the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. Byron should feel optimistic about this weekend though, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course is one of his better tracks. In three starts at the 2.32-mile road course he posted two top-10 finishes. Byron is looking to advance out of the second round of the Cup Playoffs for the first time in his career.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman (3,032 points) is ranked 12th in the Playoff standings 52 points back from the Round of 8 cutline. Bowman enters this weekend in a must-win situation if he wants to advance to the next round. In three starts at the Charlotte Road Course he has amassed two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish at the track is a stellar 4.667. Bowman is looking to advance out of the second round of the Playoffs for the second-time in his career.

Cup Playoff Dozen at the ROVAL

Playoff elimination races amp up the intensity and this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course is no different. Here is a quick look at the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 drivers at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (in order of Playoff standings position).

Denny Hamlin has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course posting a best finish of 12th in 2018. His average finish is 15.3 and his pre-race driver rating is 69.4.

Kyle Larson has made two series starts at the Charlotte Road Course putting up a best finish of 13th in 2019. His average finish is 19.0 and his pre-race driver rating is 110.1 (second-best among Playoff drivers). He has also led 52 laps – second-most behind Chase Elliott’s 62.

Joey Logano has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course collecting one top-five and three top-10 finishes. His average finish is 7.3 and his pre-race driver rating is 98.1.

Brad Keselowski has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course grabbing one top-10 finish. His average finish is 18.0 and his pre-race driver rating is 95.5. He has also led 39 laps at 2.32-mile track.

Martin Truex Jr. has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course posting two top-10 finishes. His average finish is 9.3 and his pre-race driver rating is 103.0.

Ryan Blaney has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course putting up one win (2018), two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish is 4.7 and his pre-race driver rating is 100.4. He has also led 30 laps at 2.32-mile track.

Chase Elliott has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course accumulating two wins (2019, 2020), two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish is 2.7 (best among Playoff drivers) and his pre-race driver rating is 124.5 (leads the series). He has also led a series-most 62 laps at 2.32-mile track.

Kyle Busch has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course posting a best finish of 30th in 2020. His average finish is 33.3 and his pre-race driver rating is 78.8.

Kevin Harvick has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course putting up one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His average finish is 7.7 and his pre-race driver rating is 102.3.

Christopher Bell made his series track debut at the Charlotte Road Course last season he started 35th and finished 24th.

William Byron has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course posting one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His average finish is 7.7 and his pre-race driver rating is 102.3.

Alex Bowman has made three series starts at the Charlotte Road Course collecting two top-five and three top-10 finishes. His average finish is 4.7 and his pre-race driver rating is 87.8.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Harvick to make 750th Cup start – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will be making his 750th NASCAR Cup Series career start this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Harvick will become the 13th different driver in series history to make 750 or more series starts. His first start in the series was on February 26, 2001 at Rockingham Speedway. In his previous 749 starts he has posted 58 wins, 234 top fives and 410 top 10s. In his three career starts at the ROVAL he has posted one top five and two top 10s.

Trackhouse Racing & Pitbull to donate collegiate scholarships – This week, Justin Marks, co-owner of TrackHouse Racing, announced a program with Pitbull’s SLAM! Charter School in the Little Havana section of Miami, Florida that was designed to provide career skills and collegiate scholarships to less fortunate children. Trackhouse Racing will donate a primary paint scheme on its No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro with driver Daniel Suárez, along with marketing elements on Pitbull’s 2022 concert tour, to SLAM! all money raised from the donation will be dedicated to the students’ collegiate scholarship fund.

Trackhouse representatives have worked with SLAM! teachers and administrators on developing the fall curriculum where the students in the SLAM! Marketing Academy are learning about the sport and business of NASCAR, including career and life skills. Students will research and identify prospective corporations, build sales and marketing presentations, develop oral presentation skill and teamwork. Trackhouse executives and the students will make the final presentations with all of the sponsorship funds earmarked for collegiate scholarships.

Marks announced Pitbull as a partner of Trackhouse Racing in January and the two have collaborated on impactful youth education programs.

“It is truly a blessing to have Trackhouse get so involved with the SLAM! students,” said Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull.

SLAM! is a non-profit educational organization operating public charter schools nationwide. GRAMMY-winning international superstar, entrepreneur and education advocate Armando Christian Pérez (Pitbull) opened the first SLAM! school in Miami, Florida in 2012. The SLAM! network has since expanded to 12 tuition-free charter schools in Florida, Nevada and Georgia.

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