Charlotte Roval Produces Crazy Playoff Excitement, Christopher Bell Advances

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Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC —  October 9, 2022

It’s another NASCAR Playoff Elimination Race.

It all comes down to this one race for the drivers facing elimination this weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The Playoff challengers below the Round of 8 cut line 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.

It has been difficult to keep track of the movement up and down the points leaderboard as NASCAR intervened after an on-track controversy at the Texas race that opened this round of the playoffs.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Thursday amended the September penalty to NASCAR Cup Series driver William Byron for his intentional contact with Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas Motor Speedway, which sent the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver spinning into the infield and out of the top five.

Byron, a two-time 2022 winner in the No. 24 Chevrolet, will now be issued a $100,000 fine with no championship points deduction. He was initially docked 25 driver points and 25 owner points, along with a $50,000 fine as a result of violating Sections 4.3.A & 4.4.C of the NASCAR Rule Book, which pertain to the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.

The points portion of the initial penalty would have left Byron 10th in the playoff standings and 11 points beneath the elimination line. Instead, he returns to the playoff-advancing side of the bubble heading into Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 Round of 12 elimination race. Byron now sits in seventh place, 14 points to the good.

Here are the latest standings.

Rank Driver Points Status Playoff Points
1 Chase Elliott 3103 Advanced Win 46
2 Ryan Blaney* 3101 +32 15
3 Ross Chastain 3097 +28 20
4 Denny Hamlin 3090 +21 13
5 Joey Logano* 3087 +18 25
6 Kyle Larson 3087 +18 20
7 William Byron 3083 +14 15
8 Daniel Suarez 3081 +12 7
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 12 Cut Line
9 Chase Briscoe* 3069 -12 9
10 Austin Cindric* 3069 -12 6
11 Christopher Bell 3036 -45 13
2 Alex Bowman 3015 Out Injured 7

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Clinch Scenarios

Chase Elliott, by virtue of his win at Talladega last Sunday, is the only driver to have locked himself into the Round of 8. One driver has already been eliminated. Alex Bowman still suffers from concussion symptoms and will not race today, leaving 10 Playoff contenders vying for just seven positions.

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 Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, William Byron, or Daniel Suarez.

  • Ryan Blaney: Would clinch with 21 points
  • Ross Chastain: Would clinch with 26 points
  • Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 33 points
  • Joey Logano: Would clinch with 36 points
  • Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 36 points
  • William Byron: Would clinch with 40 points
  • Daniel Suarez: Would clinch with 42 points
  • Chase Briscoe: Would clinch with 54 points
  • Austin Cindric: Would clinch with 54 points
  • Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help

Driver History at the Charlotte 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:

Driver Races Wins Top 10s Average Finish Driver Rating
Chase Elliott 4 2 3 5 113.9
Kyle Larson 3 1 1 13 112.6
William Byron 4 0 2 14.2 109.9
Ryan Blaney 4 1 4 5.8 101.1
Joey Logano 4 0 4 7.2 96.9
Alex Bowman 4 0 4 6 85.6
Christopher Bell 2 0 1 16 83.8
Denny Hamlin 4 0 1 12.8 82.3
Daniel Suárez 4 0 0 23.2 66.6
Chase Briscoe 1 0 0 22 59.8
Ross Chastain 3 0 0 23 47.1
Austin Cindric 0 0 0 0 0

Today’s Race

The Bank of America ROVAL 400 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course runs for 109 laps or 252.88 miles. Stages are set for 25/25/59 Laps. Joey Logano sits on the pole in his Team Penske Ford Mustang. William Byron starts beside Logano.

Kyle Larson is the defending champion of the race, he starts 18th today. Last week’s winner, Chase Elliott, starts ninth. Points are the main focus of all drivers today. With the exception of Christopher Bell, who is essentially in a must-win to advance position.

Stage One

On the drop of the green flag, Joey Logano(22) drove off into the infield portion of the Roval with the lead and quickly established himself as the man to beat. Logano began to pull away from the pack. Only William Byron(24) could remain close as he hung within a half second of the leader for the first ten laps.

Byron closed within a car length with five laps to go. However, Logano was able to hold off the charge and maintain the top spot. Most of the pack pitted before pit road was closed with two laps to go in the stage, looking for track position at the start of Stage Two.

Logano led every lap of the first Stage in taking the green and white checkered flag.

Joey Logano at the Charlotte Roval / NASCAR Photo

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 22 Joey Logano* (P) 10
2 24 William Byron (P) 9
3 99 Daniel Suarez (P) 8
4 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 7
5 2 Austin Cindric* (P) 6
6 5 Kyle Larson (P) 5
7 14 Chase Briscoe* (P) 4
8 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 3
9 8 Tyler Reddick 2
10 16 AJ Allmendinger 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers     (P) Playoff Drivers

The playoff drivers that stayed on the track to gain points all pitted during the Stage ending caution.

Stage Two

Tyler Reddick(8) and AJ Allmendinger(16) led the field back to the green. Non-playoff drivers lead the pack thanks to their early pit-stop strategies. Chase Elliott(9), who has already advanced and does not need stage points but could benefit from the five playoff points that go to a race winner, is on the same pit strategy.

Allmendinger, a notable road racing specialist, quickly passed Reddick to move into the top spot. It was announced this week that Allmendinger will race full-time in the Cup Series in 2023.

Again the leaderboard took a big shuffle as the pit sequences came into play at the end of the Stage. Ross Chastain(1) grabbed the Stage win as drivers positioned themselves for the Final Stage and the race for the win.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 1 Ross Chastain (P) 10
2 21 Harrison Burton* 9
3 5 Kyle Larson (P) 8
4 16 AJ Allmendinger 7
5 8 Tyler Reddick 6
6 99 Daniel Suarez (P) 5
7 22 Joey Logano *(P) 4
8 14 Chase Briscoe* (P) 3
9 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 2
10 9 Chase Elliott (P) 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers     (P) Playoff Drivers

The Final Stage

For the second consecutive restart, Allmendinger and Reddick are on the front row, and Reddick again pulls away initially. Behind them, the pack is tightly bunched as drivers fight for positions racing three and four wide through the chicanes.

Elliott runs third, with Justin Haley(31) in the fourth position and Kevin Harvick holding the fifth spot. Every position is important.

In the modern age of the playoffs, 12 times, the final playoff spot has been decided by three points or less. Four times by three points, four times by two points, and four times by a single point.

With 45 laps to go, the points difference on the elimination bubble is four points between Daniel Suarez(99) in eighth and Chase Briscoe(14) in ninth. Suarez is dealing with an ill-handling race car after suffering damage in a four-wide scrum on the restart.

With 40 laps to go, Briscoe jumped past Suarez to flip the bubble position. The window is open for pit stops to get to the end of the race on fuel. Suarez may need a stop to correct his steering problems.

Reddick gave up the lead pitting with 36 laps to go allowing Allmendinger to take over the top spot. After drivers completed their pit stops, Elliott gained the most track position and led for the first time during the afternoon.

Trackhouse Racing’s day went from bad to worse. Not only has Suarez dropped below the cut line, but Chastain hit the outside wall and damaged something in the right rear of the car. Almost undrivable, Chastain was forced to bring his machine onto the pit road for his crew to inspect the damage.

The team had to bring the car to the garage to repair the broken right rear, and Chastain had to wait patiently, hoping his 13-point edge on the bubble is enough to move him to the next round.

Late Issues

With 15 laps to go, Elliott was out front by five seconds over Allmendinger. Chastain’s crew completed the work on his car, and he returned to the race. Everyone else trailed the leader by over 10 seconds. Without a caution flag, it is unlikely the status of the race and the battle for the final playoff spot will change.

Kyle Larson(5) was idled in the pits with ten laps to go as his crew worked to replace a broken right rear toe link. Larson dropped below Chastain, giving the number one car a cushion between himself and the bubble.

With five laps to go, an advertising placard came off the wall and landed on the track forcing NASCAR to display the caution. Larson and Suarez are five laps down and are extremely unlikely to improve their positions.

Briscoe and Austin Cindric(2) can race themselves in if they improve their positions significantly. Christopher Bell(20) will need a win to advance. Bell took fresh tires during the caution.

Elliott led into the infield portion of the track with four laps to go, but it was Harvick moving into the top position as cars shuffled position. Elliott was spun out by Reddick and lost several positions dropping out of the top 10. Bell used fresh tires to move into second and give himself a chance at the win that would advance him automatically. Briscoe moved ahead of Larson, who dropped below the cut line.

The action was so fierce a barrier in the chicane on the backstretch was torn loose. With two laps to go, NASCAR had to red-flag the race to repair the track. Briscoe was caught up in some bumper tag and lost track position, so the caution period before the restart gave him a chance to get fresh tires and see if he would earn the spot back.

The race will restart in NASCAR Overtime with several drivers low on fuel. Harvick and Bell take the green side-by-side.

The Finish

Bell nosed ahead into the infield part of the track as six cars spun in the first turn. Cindric moved into position to jump ahead of Larson. As Cindric entered the rear chicane, he spun, and the Daytona 500 Champion eliminated himself from playoffs.

Bell took the white flag with a cushion over Harvick in second place. If Bell holds on for the victory, it will move the bubble down one spot from its current position.

Onto the oval portion of the track in turns three and four, Bell extended his advantage over Harvick. With the Bell win seemingly assured, the cut line moved. Briscoe and Larson were tied for the final playoff position.

Entering the rear chicane, Briscoe dove to the bottom of the track and passed two cars. With a block from his teammate, Cole Custer(41), Briscoe was able to negotiate the corner and pull away to secure the final playoff position by two points. Incredibly, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson, entered the race 18 points to the good and was eliminated due to hitting the wall and breaking a suspension part.

Christopher Bell uses a fairy tale script to advance himself into the Round of Eight. The Playoffs now move to Las Vegas, Miami, and four more drivers are eliminated at Martinsville.

Playoff Standings

In addition to Alex Bowan, who was eliminated by not starting today’s race, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez, and Austin Cindric failed to advance to the next round.

Playoff Points now reset for the Round of Eight, restoring the big advantage for Elliott.

Rank Driver Points Behind Playoff Points
1 Chase Elliott 4046 +31 46
2 Joey Logano* 4026 +11 26
3 Ross Chastain 4021 +6 21
4 Christopher Bell 4018 +3 18
NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Cut Line
5 Ryan Blaney* 4015 -3 15
6 William Byron 4015 -3 15
7 Denny Hamlin 4013 -5 13
8 Chase Briscoe* 4009 -9 9

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of The Bank of America ROVAL 400 on the Charlotte Roval

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 20 Christopher Bell (P) 112
2 4 Kevin Harvick 1.790 112
3 18 Kyle Busch 1.976 112
4 16 AJ Allmendinger 3.136 112
5 31 Justin Haley 4.635 112
6 17 Chris Buescher 4.974 112
7 45 Bubba Wallace (P) 5.442 112
8 8 Tyler Reddick 6.839 112
9 14 Chase Briscoe (P) 6.973 112
10 3 Austin Dillon 8.329 112
11 43 Erik Jones 8.716 112
12 7 Corey LaJoie 8.890 112
13 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 9.148 112
14 6 Brad Keselowski 9.412 112
15 10 Aric Almirola 10.045 112
16 24 William Byron (P) 10.639 112
17 19 Martin Truex Jr 11.151 112
18 22 Joey Logano (P) 11.833 112
19 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 16.053 112
20 9 Chase Elliott (P) 16.809 112
21 2 Austin Cindric (P) 18.860 112
22 23 Ty Gibbs 19.024 112
23 48 Noah Gragson (P) 20.706 112
24 41 Cole Custer 30.528 112
25 42 Ty Dillon 31.678 112
26 12 Ryan Blaney (P) 33.921 112
27 34 Michael McDowell 47.159 112
28 21 Harrison Burton -1 111
29 77 Mike Rockenfeller -1 111
30 38 Todd Gilliland -1 111
31 78 Josh Williams -2 110
32 51 JJ Yeley -2 110
33 27 Loris Hezemans -2 110
34 50 Conor Daly -3 109
35 5 Kyle Larson (P) -5 107
36 99 Daniel Suarez (P) -5 107
37 1 Ross Chastain (P) -9 103
38 15 Joey Hand -33 79
39 26 Daniil Kvyat -95 17

(P) Playoff Drivers