A look at the winners and losers coming out of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval…
Kyle Larson – With his win Sunday at the Roval, Larson became the first Cup driver to earn three road course wins in a single season. Larson has successfully applied his prodigious dirt racing skills to road racing at a time where the latter is more important than ever in NASCAR (for sure, he’s not the only one to pull this off). He moves on to the Round of 8, where he’ll start with a 42-point cushion and be in prime position to make his first Championship 4.
Chris Buescher – Posted a season-best finish for the second consecutive week. He bettered his sixth-place finish at Talladega with a third-place finish at the Roval. A strategy call to stay on track following the end of Stage 2 pushed Buescher into the top 10, where he stayed for the rest of the race.
Kyle Busch – Entered Sunday on the cutline but advanced to the Round of 8 by finishing fourth. Top five runs at Las Vegas and the Roval cancelled a 27th-place result at Talladega during the Round of 12. Next up: Texas Motor Speedway, where he won last year’s playoff race (he had already been eliminated from the postseason).
Chase Elliott – Overcame getting wrecked by rival Kevin Harvick to finish 12th and advance to the Round of 8. With 11 laps to go, the reigning Cup Series champion got revenge without getting his hands dirty. As he closed in on Harvick heading into Turn 1, Harvick locked up the tires and slammed into the SAFER Barrier. Elliott is still in the title hunt. Harvick is not. But is their feud really over?
Kevin Harvick – When asked if his mid-race clash with Elliott on Sunday was payback for Elliott costing him a win earlier in the playoffs at Bristol, Harvick said: “You remember Bristol.” But in the end, it was Harvick that took himself out of the postseason by overcooking Turn 1, a corner that has seen calamity time and again since the Roval debuted on the Cup schedule in 2018.
Christopher Bell – Effectively needing a win to advance, Bell never threatened. He overcame an early speeding penalty and an off-track excursion during Stage 2 to finish eighth. But his first Cup playoff run comes to a close.
William Byron – A bump from Tyler Reddick at Lap 91 caused Byron to miss the backstretch chicane while running second. Also in a must-win situation, Byron climbed back up to third. But with two laps to go, he went off course in the infield and his flickering hopes were done. After the race, Byron sought out Reddick on pit road. To Byron, Reddick’s remorse meant little: “I feel like if the roles were reversed, I would be aware.”
Alex Bowman – Another must-win driver, Bowman also suffered electrical problems with his car like his teammate Larson did. Bowman was able to endure and rise into the top five with around 30 laps to go. But a problematic alternator caused him to slip out of the top 10 shortly after. A speeding penalty on pit road with 21 laps to go proved too much to overcome. A charge from 29th to 10th at the finish was not enough to keep him in the playoffs.