Whether drivers and teams are ready, Roval week is here for the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series.
Four drivers will be eliminated from title contention in Sunday’s Cup race (2 p.m. ET on NBC) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Xfinity race (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN) is the second race in the opening round of that playoffs. Xfinity teams will get to run the road course/oval configuration for the first time Thursday. When Cup teams tested in July, a number of them got off course.
Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer are the four drivers outside the cutoff line to advance to the next round. Ryan Blaney holds that final cutoff spot heading into Charlotte. Click here for the standings.
Here’s what drivers are saying about the Roval:
Denny Hamlin (29 points out of final cutoff spot)
“I learned quite a bit from the Charlotte test, I thought we were one of the best cars there at that test. I am optimistic, but I tell you it’s going to come down to qualifying well with the limited amount of passing zones at that race track, you can definitely get stuck behind somebody for an extended period of time.”
Jimmie Johnson (6 points out of final cutoff spot)
“I learned a lot at the road course test, but I don’t know if I have a better feeling about how the race is going to go. The track has countless areas for bad things to happen; things will just end your day. So passing zones are going to be extremely difficult to figure out, I think it’s going to be a day about really minimizing your own mistakes and you’ll be able to maintain track position pretty well. But, it’s going to be crazy.”
Alex Bowman (5 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)
“Best places on the track to pass are going to be pit road. I have one of the best pit crews in the business so, I plan on using that. And the most treacherous is the whole track, so it’s going to be interesting for sure. It’s a very treacherous race track. There are really very few passing opportunities at all. It’s super narrow. Obviously you’re out on the oval for some of it, but I don’t really think you’re going to have the opportunity to use that to pass. All the breaking zones are pretty tight and technical and it’s going to be pretty tough to pass. … If you’re going in there and need to make up points, or whatever, it is going to be a tough day.”
Austin Dillon (10 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)
“I think the whole track is treacherous, there are places that you could bust your tail at any moment being over aggressive. (It) can gain you speed but also can take you out from jumping a curb.”
Kurt Busch (15 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)
“That Roval cutoff race is going to be gut-wrenching for plenty of different reasons. The extra stress that is going to come with the Roval, that one’s going to be a tough one.”
Kyle Larson (17 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)
“It’s really easy to step over the line and crash. I think it is going to be a crazy race. Don’t really know what to expect. And it is hard to pass, I don’t really know where you can pass. We will find out when we get out there on the track.”
Aric Almirola (23 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)
“I think the hardest part of the Roval is all of it. I really don’t know what the best opportunity to pass is. I have got some ideas but until you get cars on the race track running around each other … it is going to be hard to identify that. Running by yourself, you know you can gauge on what you could think would be an opportunistic place. I could tell you one place that is going to be incredibly hairy to pass and it is going to be that chicane on the back straightaway or trying to run two wide through there is going to be about impossible. So it is just the matter of whether or not you get position on the other guy and if he is willing to give it up or not.”