Sunday provides a final chance for drivers to advance to the Round of 8 and keep their Cup championship hopes alive.
Talladega winner Chase Elliott is the only driver who has advanced to the next round. That leaves seven spots available going into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).
William Byron is 11 points behind both drivers, but Hendrick Motorsports will appeal Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas on Thursday. Should Hendrick win and Byron get those points back, he would move into a transfer spot.
There’s just part of what to watch for in Sunday’s race.
Favorites to be No. 20
This season remains tied for the most different winners in series history at 19, but there are a few candidates who could become the 20th different winner this year on Sunday.
Among the favorites to do so:
Martin Truex Jr., who has four career Cup wins on road courses, still seeks his first victory of the season.
Michael McDowell, who is coming off a third-place finish at Talladega, has had a career-high 12 top-10 finishes this season, including top 10s in each of the last four road course events this year.
Will history repeat?
Harvick was eliminated in the first round this year, but Byron (-11 to the cutline) and Bell (-33) are in jeopardy of being eliminated in this round again. Bowman stated Tuesday that he will miss his second consecutive race because of continued concussion symptoms. He will be among the four eliminated from title contention.
Bowman missed last weekend’s race because of concussion-like symptoms suffered at Texas. A decision on if he’ll be able to race at the Roval will come later this week.
Will chaos continue?
Consider what some of the former Roval winners have endured on their way to the checkered flag:
In 2019, Chase Elliott drove into the Turn 1 wall on a restart while the leader. He recovered to win.
In 2020, Elliott overcame a loose wheel to win for the second year in a row.
In 2021, Kyle Larson won after his team changed batteries and put the alternator belt back on.
Could a similar fate be in store for this year’s winner? Or will they have a cleaner day?
Thirty-nine drivers are entered including IndyCar driver Conor Daly, former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and former 24 Hours of Daytona winner Joey Hand. JJ Yeley will drive the No. 51 for Cody Ware, who stated that he would skip this event because of his ankle injury at Texas the footwork needed on a road course.
The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.
This week’s schedule and forecast
(All times Eastern)
Saturday, Oct. 8
Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 66 degrees. No chance of rain during the Xfinity race.
- 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
- 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
- 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
- 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
- 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday, Oct. 9
Forecast: Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. No chance of rain during the race.
- 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)