When the second round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs begin this Sunday, it presents a number of challenges for the 12 drivers fighting it out for this year’s championship.
First off, it’s imperative for drivers to get off to a good start.
But at the same time, all 12 of the remaining championship contenders will be looking ahead to next week’s race at Talladega.
The reason is simple: a bad showing in Charlotte, coupled with the always unpredictable outcome at Talladega, could seal a driver’s chances of being eliminated from advancing to the third round even before the final race of the second round two weeks from now at Kansas.
On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, analysts Jeff Burton and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett gave their thoughts on Charlotte and looking ahead to Talladega:
BURTON: “Historically, if you run well at Dover, you run well at Charlotte. I think the fact that Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott ran so well, it’s going to show us we’re in contention here and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see those two guys running in the front again at Charlotte. And that starts to mix up who we think the favorites are. I know everybody thinks the top 3 are just walking into Homestead. I don’t believe that. If they have problems, they’re going to have to earn it. I just think Charlotte is very important to set the tempo for the second stage.”
JARRETT: “I think it’s going to show us so much about exactly who’s going to be part of that round of 8. You don’t want to go to Talladega if you had a bad weekend at Charlotte, knowing you have to make up anything there, because it’s already stressful enough and you don’t want to put yourself in that position. But I think a lot of what you do at Charlotte can transfer to Kansas, as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how some of these drivers play this.”
Check out the video above for more of Jarrett’s and Burton’s thoughts.