It’s time for the NASCAR Cup Series to take to the only road course of the postseason, with the Charlotte Roval set for Sunday (Oct. 10) afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s hybrid layout. Sunday also marks the final race of the Round of 12, and four drivers will be eliminated once the checkered flag waves.
Mostly sunny conditions and little to no chance of rain are forecasted for the afternoon, a welcome relief for drivers after precipitation threatened last year’s event.
Denny Hamlin rolls off on pole, followed by Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. in the top five. Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson fill out the rest of the top 10.
After Bubba Wallace‘s historic-on-many-levels victory at Talladega Superspeedway last week, Hamlin is the only driver locked in for the Round of 8. Harvick, Bell, William Byron and Alex Bowman currently comprise the four drivers on the outside looking in; Harvick sits nine points back of eighth-place Busch, with Bell 28 behind, Byron 44 back and Bowman trailing by 52 ticks.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 4, 2021
Not everyone is comfortably above the cutline, either: the aforementioned Busch is just nine above, as is Elliott. Larson, Logano, Keselowski, Truex and Blaney are all double-digit point totals above it, but none are more than 22 points to the good. So, essentially, it’s anyone’s game…even Byron and Bowman, who are in must-win situations on Sunday.
Where the drivers outside the cutline’s histories at the Roval are concerned, all but Bell have at least one top-10 finish. Bowman has never finished worse than eighth there, while teammate Byron came home a dismal 34th in 2018 but has since finished sixth in both subsequent races. Harvick’s results have never dipped below 11th, while Bell ended up 24th in his lone Cup start at the track.
Kyle Busch, nine to the good but on the brink of elimination should bad luck strike, has never finished better than 30th at the Roval. Elliott, tied with Busch, has won the past two races there and is looking for a hat trick come Sunday. Blaney is the only other winner at the track, claiming the inaugural checkered flag in 2018 when the leaders spun just yards short of the finish line.
Actor Daniel Craig, the sixth person to portray the character of James Bond on the big screen, will serve as the honorary starter and wave the green flag to start the race; he’s promoting his fifth and final Bond film No Time to Die.
Allmendinger went to victory lane in Saturday (Oct. 9) afternoon’s Xfinity Series race, and has now won the past three NXS events on the road course. Myatt Snider, Jeb Burton, Riley Herbst and Jeremy Clements wound up on the wrong side of the cutoff when the smoke cleared, cutting the playoff field down to eight. Josh Bilicki, meanwhile, had an off-line excursion during the race and destroyed some of the curbing in an incident eerily reminiscent of the Cup Series’ chaos at the Indianapolis road course earlier this season.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 9, 2021
Allmendinger will start 33rd in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing entry.
Across the pond, Valtteri Bottas stood atop the podium at the Turkish Grand Prix, claiming his first Formula 1 victory of 2021. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, both running special white schemes to pay tribute to departing partner Honda. Verstappen retook the points lead from Lewis Hamilton, now sitting atop the standings by a six-point margin.
As for the Cup Series, tune in to see some left and right turns at the Charlotte Roval at 2 p.m. on NBC’s flagship station.
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