NASCAR Charlotte Roval Preview – Kyle Busch Favored
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
Time for ROVAL Racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway! And, if you have not heard The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is racing for the first time on a road course at Charlotte. The course incorporates portions of the oval track as well as new infield turns. Talk about a wild-card heading into the last race of round one in the Playoffs! There are plenty of unknowns except for one! Once again, Kyle Busch is the favored driver!
What’s interesting about this race is that teams, and drivers, have no playbook on how to approach this track. There’s never been a race on the “ROVAL” so there are no notes to build on. In fact, there have only been a few drivers on the track so far during NASCAR test session. Plus, Goodyear has changed the compound of the tires since the testing.
So, why is Kyle Busch favored, +300, if there’s no history on this track? Because oddsmakers are going by everything the drivers have done so far in 2018 with some of their past records sprinkled in. So far Busch, Martin Truex Jr +450, Kevin Harvick +800 and Brad Keselowski +800, have been the cream of the crop during the 2018 season. So, there’s no reason that these four drivers shouldn’t be at the top of the favorites leaderboard heading into the race weekend.
Here are the Top-Five Favored Drivers for Charlotte
Martin Truex Jr
If you look at the top-five while considering road course wins and the odds before the race, you’ll notice some similarities. Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, has four road course wins. That’s the most road course checkered flags of current active Cup Series drivers. Truex, driver of the No. 78 for Furniture Row Racing, follows with three road course wins.
Harvick has two, and Chase Elliott earned his first road course checkered earlier this season when he won at Watkins Glen. Brad Keselowski is the only top-five favored driver without having won a race on a road course in the Cup Series.
Remaining Charlotte Odds
There are several other road course winners among the remaining drivers. However, it appears that oddsmakers are factoring in performance over the course of this season rather than if a driver has a prior win outside of an oval. Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmy Johnson, and AJ Allmendinger all have one road course win each.
Racing on the ROVAL is going to be a test for all drivers, but you can bet that several near the bottom of the Cup Series Playoff points list that probably worried. There are not too many points separating drivers after Joey Logano who is fifth and Aric Almirola in sixth. That’s where things get interesting.
The remaining ten drivers can’t afford to have a bad day! Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon are both 10 points above the cut. Alex Bowman is 5 points above the cutline with Ryan Blaney only 4 points to the good. All four of these drivers are on the bubble and could easily be knocked out of the playoffs.
Drivers below the cutline heading into Charlotte are Clint Bowyer -4, Jimmy Johnson -6, Erik Jones -21, and Denny Hamlin -29.
1. Kyle Busch
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Martin Truex Jr
In round 2 with stage wins
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Joey Logano
6. Aric Almirola
7. Kyle Larson
8. Kurt Busch
9. Chase Elliott
10. Austin Dillon
11. Alex Bowman
12. Ryan Blaney
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Jimmy Johnson
15. Erik Jones
16. Denny Hamlin
Busch and Keselowski are both locked into round two of the Playoffs due to wins during round one. Truex is locked in with the number of stage wins he has during round one.
Basic ROVAL Facts
• Course length: 2.28 miles • Number of turns: 17 • Elevation changes: 35 feet • Cup race laps: 109 laps, 400 kilometers, 248.52 miles • Stages: 25 laps, 25 laps, and 59 laps. • Xfinity race laps: 55 laps, 125.4 miles, 201.8 kilometers • Stages: 15 laps, 15 laps, and 25 laps. • Rain tires will be available. • The race can’t be run at night as the infield portion of the track is not lighted.
NASCAR Weekend Viewing Guide:
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this weekend. Both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are at Charlotte. There are practices scheduled for the Xfinity series on Thursday but there is no TV coverage.
Friday, Sept. 28
• 12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN) • 1:05 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN) • 3:05 – 3:55 – Xfinity final practice (NBCSN) • 4:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying; multi-car/two rounds (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Saturday, Sept. 29
• 11 – 11:50 a.m. – Cup practice (NBC Sports app) • 12:10 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/two rounds (CNBC) • 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (CNBC) • 2:30 – Driver introductions • 3 p.m. – Xfinity Drive for the Cure 200; 55 laps/125.1 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday, Sept. 30
• 1:20 p.m. – Driver introductions • 2 p.m. – Bank of America Roval 400; 109 laps/248.52 miles (NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)