bank of america roval 400

Alex Bowman on Bubba Wallace: ‘I don’t really think he did anything wrong’ after Roval

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Alex Bowman said Friday that he didn’t have an issue with Bubba Wallace confronting him and splashing him in liquid after last weekend’s Cup race while Bowman sat next to his car being tended to by a medical worker.

Bowman was asked by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On-Track” whether Wallace had apologized to him in private this week after not making any public statements about the incident.

“He hasn’t (apologized), but I feel he said what he had to say and got that out after the race,” Bowman said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I don’t think that was the end of the world. I don’t really think he did anything wrong there.

“We all have emotions inside and outside of the race cars and that stuff happens.”

Wallace approached Bowman after Sunday’s race, briefly said something to the Hendrick Motorsports driver before splashing him with liquid from the bottle he was carrying and walking away.

After leaving the medical center, Bowman didn’t repeat what Wallace said to him, but added it was “nothing classy by any means.”

On Monday, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio he would meet with Wallace during the week to discuss the incident.

“I think that was really not classy whatsoever,” O’Donnell said. “I understand that drivers have issues with each other during a race, we totally get that, but when a driver is on the ground being attended to by medical personnel, you need to be smarter than that.”

Wallace, who is not a playoff driver, had been intentionally spun by Bowman on Lap 43. Bowman was mad at Wallace for him flipping off Bowman multiple times during the race, something Wallace also had done the previous weekend at Richmond.

Wallace’s one-finger salute at the Roval was apparently in reaction to being hit by Bowman on the first lap of the race.

“That was just a mistake,” Bowman said after last weekend’s race. “I got flipped off for every single straightaway on the entire race track for three laps. I got flipped off by him for like three or four laps in a row at Richmond, so I’m just over it.”

“I’ve got to stand up for myself at some point,” Bowman said after finishing second at the Roval. “Probably wouldn’t have gotten wrecked if he had his finger back in the car.

“I’d be mad too, but he put himself in that spot.”

Later on Friday Bowman was asked about mending fences with Wallace and other drivers he has run-ins with.

“I don’t really talk to those guys anyways,” Bowman said. “I kind of bring my friends with me to the race track. I’m not here to be driver’s friend. I’ve said that since I started here. I’m not here to be friends with the people that I’m paid to beat every weekend. There are some guys that get along really well in the garage, but I just kind of stick to myself. It’s not anything against anyone. I’m just kind of quiet and keep to myself.”

Corey LaJoie’s Ninja Turtle-themed Operation ‘Kowabunga’ a ‘major success’

Corey LaJoie

Corey LaJoie left his mark on the Charlotte Roval over the weekend and we’re not talking about the tire marks from when he spun his No. 32 Ford.

No, the Go Fas Racing driver left an artistic mark on the Roval and he did so in the dead of night on the eve of Sunday’s Cup race.

Inspired by the “turtle” nickname given to the track’s rumble strips located in numerous turns, LaJoie had a creative itch.

It was an itch that could only be scratched via a “covert mission” with LaJoie armed with two cans of spray paint and two rolls of tape.

When the sun rose Sunday, one of the “turtles” in the frontstretch chicane bore a face. And not just any face. It was the smiling, green face of one of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Raphael to be specific.

“No I did not have permission,” LaJoie tweeted. “Hopefully forgiveness (shrug emoji).”

Raphael survived the race unscathed.

Come Monday afternoon, LaJoie revealed that Raphael had a new home in the main lobby at Charlotte Motor Speedway and that operation “Kowabunga” – named after the Ninja Turtles’ catchphrase – was a “major success.”

Seems like LaJoie was forgiven.

But LaJoie does have one wish for the fate of Raphael. He’d like to see it used to raise money for a good cause.

Aric Almirola out of playoffs after pit strategy fails

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CONCORD, N.C. — A year after late-race dramatics sent Aric Almirola to the second round of the playoffs, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver experienced the opposite side of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval elimination race.

Almirola placed 14th in Sunday’s race and missed the cutoff spot by five points.

Almirola’s departure from the postseason can be traced back to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s spin on Lap 89. Almirola’s crew chief, Johnny Klausmeier, made the decision not to pit.

“We were basically set up for a one stop race and we elected when the yellow came out there for the 17, we were going to be seventh on the inside so we stayed out,” Klausmeier told NBC Sports. “Some guys pitted from 10th on back and simple enough we went from seventh to 13th on the restart. The car didn’t fire off on the tires as good and then you’re in the clutches of guys with fresher tires and you just have to put tires on and get back on an even playing field.”

But it never worked out for Almirola.

Over the last 17 laps and three more restarts, Almirola struggled to make up ground as his rival to make the second round, Alex Bowman, charged to an eventual second-place finish and Almirola battled Ryan Newman.

“We just didn’t have enough laps left to make any headway with,” Klausmeier said.

Almirola will now try race for points and wins over the last seven races of the season. He has yet to win this year.

“It stinks for sure,” Almirola told NBCSN. “The sun’s going to come out tomorrow and I’m still going to be Aric Almirola and they’re not going to take my birthday (March 14) away. But it’s going to sting. Last year we came out on the good side leaving the Roval and went on to have a great rest of the playoffs and finished fifth in points. I’m still really proud of this race team.”

Chase Elliott roars back from 37th to 1st in final 44 laps to win Roval race

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After wrecking while in the lead and then falling back to 37th with 44 laps to go, Chase Elliott roared back to win Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, ending the first round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs with the elimination of four drivers from further advancement.

It was Elliott’s third win of the season and sixth of his Cup career.

“Did you all like that?” Elliott asked to fans, who responded with a big round of cheers, while being interviewed on NBC Sports.

MORE: Results, points from playoff elimination race at Charlotte

While leading on a restart with 45 laps left and shortly after winning Stage 2, Elliott came into Turn 1 and drove straight into the wall. It appeared Elliott was carrying too much speed into the turn and also applied the brakes too late, missing the turn and going straight ahead into the tire wall.

“What a mistake,” Elliott told NBC Sports. “Talk about messing something up. … I pretty well blew it and had the cautions fall at the right time and we were able to bring it back home.”

Elliott’s tangle with the tire wall was very similar to how Brad Keselowski, also while in the lead, went into the wall in last year’s Roval race. However, several other drivers were collected in that wreck, while Elliott’s crash Sunday was a solo incident.

After repairs on pit road, Elliott returned to the race in 37th place, but flew back up to 14th 10 laps later, up to eighth on Lap 85, fourth on Lap 95, third with nine laps to go and second with five laps to go before overtaking Kevin Harvick in the closing laps to take the checkered flag.

Teammate Alex Bowman finished second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski.

Seven races now remain in the playoffs. Things now move on to the Round of 12 but will do so without Erik Jones, Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch, who were all eliminated after being the lowest-scoring drivers in the opening round.

The eliminations began with three laps to go in Stage 1 when several drivers made contact going into Turn 1, including Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. All but Jones’ car were able to continue. Jones took his car to the garage with a punctured radiator, ending his hopes of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

It’s unfortunate,” Jones told NBC Sports. “We just had three really bad weeks, some of our own doing, today not really of our own doing. … I’d love to be moving forward and challenging for the championship … It’s just the nature of the playoffs. We’ll keep racing all year and next year come back and improve all we can.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Elliott (by winning the stage, locked himself into Round of 12 on points).

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: William Byron led 24 laps and finished sixth. … Martin Truex Jr., who won the first two races of the opening round of the playoffs, started from the back of the field due to an engine change but roared back to finish seventh.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: With 19 laps to go, Ryan Newman stalled his car after a pit stop, losing several positions and dropping below the cutline in the running points chart. … Being three laps down to the leaders and sitting in 37th place, Kyle Busch took his car out of the race during the red flag stoppage with seven laps to go. It’s the second time Busch has finished 37th in the last four races and the regular season champion has now dropped to seventh in the standings after the first three playoff races.

NOTABLE: Alex Bowman was taken to the infield medical center after the race, reportedly for exhaustion. … Ryan Blaney limped his car around the track for much of the second half of the race with a broken left rear strut. He was able to hold on to advance to the playoffs. … Two days after being hospitalized with a kidney stone, Michael McDowell had a strong race Sunday, including running in the top five at times before finishing 12th. … With seven laps to go, the race was red-flagged for 8 minutes, 22 seconds due to fluid that needed to be cleaned up on the race track.

WHAT’S NEXT: The second round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs – also known as the Round of 12 – will begin Sunday, Oct. 5 at Dover International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

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Chase Elliott crashes during restart while leading

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CONCORD, N.C. — Chase Elliott locked up his tires and plowed into the Turn 1 tire barrier while leading on a restart with 45 laps to go in the Cup race on the Charlotte Roval.

Elliott, who won Stage 2, was restarting in the inside lane when the incident occurred.

He had led 28 laps prior to the incident. He was able to continue.

It’s the second year in row such an incident has happened to the leader. It occurred to Brad Keselowski when he locked up his tires last year and plowed into the Turn 1 tire barrier. In that instance, it resulted in a multi-car incident.