Complete this sentence. Sunday’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval will …
Nate Ryan: … meet the expectations of being the most unpredictable race of the season, and at least one playoff driver will question afterward whether it is justified as a cutoff race.
Dustin Long: … be a race unlike seen before in the playoffs.
Daniel McFadin: … will be exhilarating and while at the same time causing people to question their life choices.
Dan Beaver: … be unpredictable. Strategy will spread strong road course drivers throughout the field and in harm’s way if there is a multi-car accident.
Nate Ryan: Bowyer and Johnson will advance.
Dustin Long: Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones advance.
Daniel McFadin: Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones survive and advance.
Dan Beaver: Clint Bowyer has three top fives in his last four road course races. If he keeps his car clean, he will leap into the top 12.
What’s one playoff driver and one non-playoff driver to keep an eye on at the Charlotte Roval this weekend and why.
Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin because he’s facing a win-or-else situation but also was optimistic about running well after the test there. AJ Allmendinger because he presumably has more laps on some form of the layout than anyone (as the first to test at the track nearly two years ago) and should be a contender for a strong finish given his prowess on road courses.
Dustin Long: Austin Dillon. Few expected him to advance to the second round but he’s in position to do so. Question is will he. Jamie McMurray has run well on road courses and could be one who takes the win away from the playoff drivers in the right circumstances.
Daniel McFadin: AJ Allmendinger, because he’s obviously good at road courses you don’t know how many more shots he’ll get at a win. Clint Bowyer, because he’s a sleeper when it comes to road courses.
Dan Beaver: Keep an eye on Erik Jones because he practically needs to win in order to advance. In four career road course races, Jones has improved every time with a best of fifth at Watkins Glen in August. His teammate Daniel Suarez has run much better at Watkins Glen than the more technical Sonoma Raceway, but his worst road course finish in four starts has been a 16th.