GFT Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Charlotte Roval

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
14 min readOct 7, 2023

6 October 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

CONCORD, NC — The 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, October 8. 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. Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron (Texas winner) and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney (Talladega winner) have won their way into the Round of 8, leaving six of the eight spots still available come Sunday.

Playoff contenders in the Round of 12 will battle Sunday at the Charlotte Roval to join William Byron and Ryan Blaney in the Round of 8 (Image Credit: GFT Digital)
The Charlotte Roval (Image Credit: Charlotte Motor Speedway)

NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
The Date: Sunday, October 8
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,689,910
TV: NBC, 2 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)

Track Facts

Track Length: 2.28 Miles
Race Length: 400 Kilometers / 249 miles (109 laps)
Grandstand Seating Capacity: 86,000
First Race: September 30, 2018 — Bank of America ROVAL 400
Banking in Corners: Varying from 2 to 24 degrees
Banking on Straights: Varying from 0 to 5 degrees
Number of Turns: 17
Frontstretch: 1,580 feet
Backstretch: 1,500 feet

Qualifying & Race Records

Qualifying: Kurt Busch, Ford, 106.868 mph (76.805 sec.); Sept. 28, 2018
Races: Christopher Bell, Toyota, 86.661 mph; Oct. 9, 2022

Track Records

Most Wins: 2 — Chase Elliott
Most Poles: 1 — Kurt Busch, William Byron, Joey Logano
Most Top Fives: 2 — Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick
Most Top 10s: 4 — Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney

Kyle Larson leads at the Charlotte Roval (Image Credit- Jared C. Tilton Getty Images)

This season will be the sixth-time the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course has hosted a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race (2018–2023) and the 2.32-mile track has occupied two different spots on the series postseason schedule — from 2018–2019 the Charlotte Road Course hosted the third race in the Playoffs (Round of 16 elimination race) and from 2020–2023 the sixth race in the Playoffs (Round of 12 elimination race).

The Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (2020–2022) 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 the race in 2019.

A total of 12 different drivers have won the sixth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson with four postseason victories — all at Martinsville Speedway (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008). Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers with three victories (2009, 2010, 2019) in the sixth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Chase Elliott leads all active drivers in Charlotte ROVAL wins with two (2019, 2020).

Six-times the winner of the sixth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the championship later that same season — once at Kansas Speedway, three-times at Martinsville Speedway and twice at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course:

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

· 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. His first of four consecutive postseason wins in 2007 — Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix.

· 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. His second of three postseason wins in 2008 — Kansas, Martinsville, Phoenix.

· In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won at Kansas Speedway, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title later that season. His second of four postseason wins in 2017 — Chicago, Charlotte, Kansas and Miami.

· In 2020, Chase Elliott won at the Charlotte Motor Speedway 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 his 2020 postseason run — Charlotte, Martinsville, Phoenix.

· In 2021, Kyle Larson 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 second of his record tying five Playoff wins during the 2021 postseason — Bristol, Charlotte, Texas, Kansas, Phoenix.

The worst finish by a driver in the sixth Playoff race that went on to win the NASCAR Cup Series title that same season was:

· At Kansas Speedway (2012, 2017–2019) it has happened twice — 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.

· At the Charlotte Road Course (2020–2022) — Joey Logano in 2022 finished 18th in the sixth race of the Playoffs at the Charlotte ROVAL 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, also finished the season 10th in the final standings.

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

· In 2005, Jeff Gordon won the Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway he was ranked 15th in the series standings at the time of the win.

· In 2011, Clint Bowyer won the Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway he was ranked 13th in the series standings at the time of the win.

· In 2013, Jamie McMurray 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.

All the NASCAR Cup Series on-track activity will begin with practice and Busch Light Pole Qualifying, and both can be viewed on Saturday, October 7 from 12:30 p.m. — 2 p.m. ET on the USA Network.

Charlotte ROVAL Clinch Scenarios: Advancing to the Round of 8

The Bank of America ROVAL 400 (Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the last chance for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contenders to secure their spot in the Round of 8. Thus far, two drivers have locked themselves into the Round of 8 — William Byron and Ryan Blaney — heading into this weekend leaving 11 Playoff contenders vying for just six positions.

Already Clinched

The following 2 drivers have clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round: William Byron, Ryan Blaney.

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 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Larson.

· Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 5 points

· Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 33 points

· Chris Buescher: Would clinch with 36 points

· Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 38 points

· Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 40 points

· Brad Keselowski: Would clinch with 53 points

· Tyler Reddick: Would clinch with 55 points

· Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help

· Bubba Wallace: Could only clinch with help

· Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help

The following drivers could clinch on points with a win by Brad Keselowski:

· Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 6 points

· Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 34 points

· Chris Buescher: Would clinch with 37 points

· Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 39 points

· Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 41 points

· Tyler Reddick: Could only clinch with help

· Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help

· Bubba Wallace: Could only clinch with help

· Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Tyler Reddick 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 6th winless driver in the standings.

· Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 8 points

· Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 36 points

· Chris Buescher: Would clinch with 39 points

· Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 41 points

· Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 43 points

· Brad Keselowski: Could only clinch with help

· Tyler Reddick: Could only clinch with help

· Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help

· Bubba Wallace: Could only clinch with help

· Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch.

Playoff Crunch Time: Reddick, Chastain, Wallace, Busch facing elimination

For the drivers facing elimination this weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs — Tyler Reddick (-2 points), Ross Chastain (-9), Bubba Wallace (-10) and Kyle Busch (-26) — it all comes down to Sunday’s 109 scheduled laps around the ROVAL. The Playoff contenders below the Round of 8 cutline will have to showcase their best road racing skills this weekend on a specialized road course that is anything but forgiving if they want to advance in the postseason.

Following a wild Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race last weekend that saw Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney join William Byron (Texas winner) as the two drivers locked into the Round of 8, RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski resides in the eighth and final transfer spot on points to the next round. Outside the cutoff looking in are 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick (-2 points) in ninth, Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (-9) in 10th, 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace (-10) in 11th and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch (-26) in 12th.

“I’m going to make left and right-hand turns this weekend and live my dream,” said Chastain. “We’ll put our best foot forward and as long as I’m getting to drive these rocket ships that Trackhouse Racing brings me, I’m living my dream and we’ll keep fighting.”

Cup Series Playoff Dozen 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 and how they have performed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course:

It’s Not Over Yet: Drivers that have raced their way into the Round of 8

Since the introduction of the ‘elimination style’ format of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, several drivers have raced their way into the Round of 8 in the sixth and final cutoff race of the Round of 12.

2014: Heading to Talladega (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2014, Matt Kenseth was ranked ninth in the Playoff standings, one point back from the Round of 8 cutoff and Brad Keselowski was ranked 10th in the Playoff standings, 19 points behind the Round of 8 cutoff. Brad Keselowski won the race at Talladega and automatically advanced to the next round. Matt Kenseth finished second at Talladega and advanced on points to the Round of 8 knocking Kasey Kahne (12th-place finish at Talladega) and Kyle Busch (40th-place finish at Talladega) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Kyle Busch was second in the Playoff standings 26 points above the cutline and Kasey Kahne was eighth in the Playoff standings just one point above the Round of 8 cutoff.

2015: Heading to Talladega (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2015, Kyle Busch was ranked ninth in the Playoff standings just six points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Kyle Busch finished 11th at Talladega and advanced on points knocking his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin (37th-place finish at Talladega due to an incident) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Denny Hamlin was second in the Playoff standings, 18 points above the Round of 8 cutoff.

2016: Heading to Talladega (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2016, Denny Hamlin was ranked 10th in the Playoff standings, six points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Hamlin went on to finish third at Talladega and advanced on points knocking Martin Truex Jr. (40th-place finish at Talladega due to an engine failure) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Martin Truex Jr. was sixth in the Playoff standings, 13 points above the Round of 8 cutoff.

2017: Heading to Kansas (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2017, Kyle Busch was ranked ninth in the Playoff standings, seven points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Busch went on to finish 10th at Kansas and advanced on points knocking Kyle Larson (39th-place finish at Kansas due to an engine failure) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Kyle Larson was third in the Playoff standings, 29 points above the Round of 8 cutoff.

2018: The four drivers below the Round of 8 cutline heading into the sixth race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Kansas Speedway — Brad Keselowski (-1 point from cutoff), Ryan Blaney (-5), Kyle Larson (-19) and Alex Bowman (-51) — all failed to advance to the Round of 8 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Kansas race. At Kansas, Larson finished third, Keselowski finished sixth, Blaney finished seventh and Bowman finished ninth.

2019: Heading to Kansas Speedway (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2019, Chase Elliott was ranked 10th in the Playoff standings, 15 points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Elliott went on to finish second at Kansas and advanced on points knocking Brad Keselowski (19th-place finish at Kansas) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Keselowski was fifth in the Playoff standings, nine points above the Round of 8 cutoff.

2020: Heading to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2020, Kurt Busch was ranked 10th in the Playoff standings, five points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Kurt Busch went on to finish fourth in the Charlotte Road Course race and advanced on points knocking Austin Dillon (19th-place finish at the Charlotte ROVAL) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Dillon was eighth in the Playoff standings tied with Kyle Busch (ninth) on points (3,053 each) along the Round of 8 cutline.

2021: The four drivers below the Round of 8 cutline heading into the sixth race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course — Kevin Harvick (-9 points from cutoff), Christopher Bell (-28), William Byron (-44) and Alex Bowman (-52) — all failed to advance to the Round of 8 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Charlotte ROVAL race. At the Charlotte Road Course, Harvick finished 33rd, Bell finished eighth, Byron finished 11th and Bowman finished 10th. Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch were tied in points for the final two position in the Round of 8 heading into Charlotte and both held on and advanced.

2022: Heading to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (sixth race of the Playoffs) in 2022, William Byron was ranked 10th in the Playoff standings, 11 points back from the Round of 8 cutoff and Christopher Bell was ranked 11th, 33 points back in a must win situation. Bell would go on to win the race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course to advance to the Round of 8. Byron would finish the event 16th and advanced on points. Bell and Byron would knock Kyle Larson (35th-place finish at the Charlotte ROVAL) and Daniel Suarez (36th-place finish) out of the Playoffs. Heading into the elimination race, Larson was sixth in the Playoff standings up 18 points on the Round of 8 cutline and Suarez was ranked seventh in the Playoff standings, up 12 points on the Round of 8 cutoff.

Kings Of The Road: Former Cup Series road course winners to watch this weekend

The NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be challenged by the twists and turns of multi-elevational (ROVAL) road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 race on Sunday, October 8 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Several drivers are still looking for their first win this season, including Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott who leads all active drivers in road course wins with seven victories. Elliott is already considered one of the early favorites for this weekend but keep an eye on the three most recent winners on road courses in the series, Martin Truex Jr. (Sonoma), Michael McDowell (Indianapolis) and William Byron (Watkins Glen), as all three will most certainly be in the mix as well.

This weekend there are 15 former series road course winners are entered in this Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte.

UP Next:

10/15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway

10/22 Homestead-Miami Speedway

10/29 Martinsville Speedway

--

--

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association