Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC — September 29, 2019
Lots of news out of Charlotte Motor Speedway this week in preparation for the Bank of America Roval 400. It was announced this week that Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) will not be back next year in the Roush Fenway Ford Mustang. That seat will go to Chris Buescher who is leaving JTG Daugherty Racing.
Michael McDowell(34) missed the Friday morning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. He went to the hospital with a kidney stone, passed it and returned to the track to qualify 22nd. ”I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” said McDowell. ”It was rough but now I feel pretty good.”
Indy Car Test
IndyCar Champion Josef Newgarden gave the ROVAL at Charlotte a test run with his Indy race car and pronounced it ready to run on the road course track.
More talk of the possibility of an Indy Car / NASCAR doubleheader. Pocono has already been mentioned as a track that could host such an event. Are we adding Charlotte to the list?
To the Rear of the Field
Alex Bowman(88) qualified on the front row. In the last minute of practice on Saturday, he crashed and will be forced to start from the rear of the field in his backup car. This could be a huge disadvantage to Bowman who sits two points below the cut line.
Martin Truex Jr.(19) missed a shift during practice and damaged the motor in his race car. The engine change forced him to the back of the field. A wreck by Jimmie Johnson(48) during practice wrinkled the rear of his car. However, Johnson’s crew was able to repair the damage and preserve his 4th place starting position. Denny Hamlin(11) also wrecked in practice and had to pull out the backup car sending him to the rear of the field as well.
Playoff Elimination Race
Four drivers will not advance to the next round of the playoffs after today’s race. Erik Jones(20) is eliminated if he cannot pull off a miracle win, due to his penalty for the failed post-race inspection last week.
Eight drivers are battling to avoid the final three elimination positions. Bowman’s teammate, William Byron(24) is on the bubble, two points ahead. Byron starts from the pole for today’s race. A huge advantage if he can turn that qualifying run into a Stage 1 win.
|Round 1 Cut Line|
Stages today are 25/25/59 laps and the fight for Stage points will be critical for the drivers around the bubble.
Byron began building a lead from the 1st lap. Bowman experienced trouble his first time through the backstretch chicane. Entering too fast, he locked up the brakes and spun around. The incident caused Truex and Bubba Wallace(43) to miss the corner and serve the penalty for driving straight through. Bowman had to pit and change four flat-spotted tires, further hampering his attempt to advance on points.
Byron led every lap in the early part of the Stage, building a huge lead. Ryan Preece(47) spun in the backstretch chicane on Lap 19 bringing out the caution. The yellow flag presented a dilemma for crew chiefs, stay out and collect Stage points or pit and get track position for the beginning of Stage 2? The leaders stayed out, most everyone out of the top 10 pitted for fresh tires and fuel.
On the restart, a big wreck clogged up the entrance to turn one. Kurt Busch(1) ran into the back of Chris Buescher(37) who hit Johnson, spinning the #48 car out. Johnson’s car tapped Hamlin and he spun into Bowman and Jones. Erik Jones car suffered a punctured radiator sending him to the garage and becoming the first driver eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Kyle Larson(42) passed Byron at the front of the field just prior to the yellow being displayed again. Unable to restart the race, Stage 1 ended under the caution giving Larson the Stage win.
Stage 1 Results
* Ford Mustang Drivers
Joey Logano(22) and Brad Keselowski(2) stayed out at the end of Stage 1 trying to make the distance in just two pit stops. On old tires, they gave ground quickly when the race went back to green. Chase Elliott(9) moved to the lead until the caution waved again on Lap 41. Bowman, tired of following Wallace, purposely moved the #43 out of the way exiting the road course portion of the track. Wallace hit the outside wall of the oval facing the wrong way causing the yellow to wave.
Elliott pitted, as did most of the field. Clint Bowyer(14), McDowell, and Keselowski stayed out and took over the top 3 spots. With fresher tires, Elliott worked his way back into the lead and posted the win in Stage 2.
Stage 2 Results
|19||Martin Truex Jr.||4|
* Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
Most of the leaders stayed out during the Stage ending caution. Bowyer starts the final stage on the bubble thanks to earning 16 points in the first two Stages. Ryan Newman is one point out of the top 12. Bowman is 12 points out and Kurt Busch 22 points behind and most likely needing a win to advance.
Elliott started in the top spot and with a clear race track in front of him began to stretch the lead. Daniel Hemric(8), who learned recently he will not be back with Richard Childress Racing in 2020, spun on the oval on Lap 61 bringing out the caution. Again, most of the leaders stayed out.
The yellow flag was fortunate for Ryan Blaney(12), last year’s winner of the race, he had hit the wall and was trailing sparks from the left rear of his car. Two pit stops failed to completely repair the issue where the shock attaches to the rear suspension.
The Leader Wrecks
Chase Elliott overruns Turn 1, locks up the brakes and plows nose-first into the barrier across the track. Damage to the hood brings him into the pits for service.
On the restart, it’s now Harvick and Keselowski on the front row. Into Turn 1, Truex passes Keselowski and looks at the bumper of Harvick, hoping to sweep all three races in the 1st round. But, with 40 laps to go, everyone will need a final pit stop to make it to the end of the race.
Final Pit Stops
Pit stops that will carry the cars to the finish began with 36 laps to go. Harvick gave up the lead, pitting with 33 to go. As pit stops cycled through, Harvick returned to the lead with 29 laps to go.
On Lap 88, Ricky Stenhouse spun entering the rear chicane too fast bringing out the yellow flag. While the leaders stayed out, most of the field pitted for fresh tires. Newman stalled his car on pit road and had to be push started. He left in next to last place, dealing a serious blow to his playoff advancement chances.
Hamlin spun in the road course section of the track and collected a number of cars including Ryan Newman. With 17 laps to go the playoff race was scrambled again. Coming to the restart, Harvick and Truex lead the pack to green.
With 13 laps to go, Daniel Suarez(41) spins in the infield bringing out another yellow. Bowman is on the bubble, two points up, Newman is two points out. Aric Almirola is three points out and calling for tires, he pits while most of the field stays out costing him a lot of track position. With 35 cars on the lead lap, Almirola will have to advance fast. The race restarts with 11 laps to go.
Before they can complete a lap, Kurt Busch(1) spins Buescher coming up onto the oval and the caution comes out for the 10th time.
Red Flag Builds Tension
It’s still Harvick and Truex upfront. Newman is on the bubble, three points up. Bowman is three points out and Almirola, still trying to recover from his pit stop, is 13 points out. The race was red-flagged with 7 laps to go as Garrett Smithley(52) lost a rear-end and dumped fluid on the track extending the cleanup laps. The restart will put the race back to green with six laps to go.
Chase Elliott restarted in 3rd and quickly moved to second through the infield portion of the racecourse. He passed Harvick for the lead in the rear chicane. Bowman fought his way to second and cut the gap for the last playoff advancement spot to one point. Newman must not lose a position or Bowman will pass him.
Under the pressure, Newman slid into the rear chicane and flat-spotted his tires. That was all it took to cost him the last available playoff spot.
Elliott took the checkered flag, then drove his car around the track back to the front stretch. He pulled up to the barrier wall where he crashed earlier, placed the nose against the wall and did a wild burnout.
Bowman finished second, climbed out of his car and slumped to the pavement overheated. Bubba Wallace, who Bowman had wrecked intentionally early in the race, walked up to have words. Wallace threw water in Bowman’s face and stormed off.
Alex Bowman raced his way in, so did Clint Bowyer. Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman failed. Five points separated Almirola from Bowman. It was a crushing blow for the Stewart Haas Racing Team driver to not advance, he came within one position last year of making it to Homestead. Erik Jones probably had the worst luck of any of the playoff drivers. It was the second year in a row that Jones made the postseason and went out in the first round.
|Rank||Driver||Points||Behind Cut Line||Playoff Points|
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||2175||Advanced Win||41|
|2||Kevin Harvick||2163||Advanced Points||28|
|3||Brad Keselowski||2152||Advanced Points||24|
|4||Chase Elliott||2140||Advanced Win||24|
|5||Joey Logano||2135||Advanced Points||29|
|6||Denny Hamlin||2123||Advanced Points||30|
|7||Kyle Busch||2118||Advanced Points||30|
|8||Kyle Larson||2110||Advanced Points||6|
|9||Clint Bowyer||2098||Advanced Points||0|
|10||Ryan Blaney||2094||Advanced Points||4|
|11||William Byron||2094||Advanced Points||1|
|12||Alex Bowman||2086||Advanced Points||5|
Round 2 or the Round of 12 kicks off next week at Dover International Speedway, continues at Talladega, and moves to Kansas Speedway for the next elimination race when the contenders are cut to the final eight.
Results of the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
|7||19||Martin Truex Jr.|
|17||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|