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Underdogs benefit from Roval chaos

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The smoke is starting to clear on the chaotic finish to Sunday’s Cup race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The inaugural Cup race on the road course saw many underdog teams come out with impressive finishes, as they capitalized on the 15-car crash with six laps to go and the mayhem of the final three laps.

Here’s who emerged with something good to take back to their race shop.

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 7th: After qualifying second, Allmendinger never led a lap. He finished eighth in Stage 1 and was one of the drivers to take advantage of Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.‘s last-turn incident. It was his first top 10 since the July Daytona race.

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished 13th: Earned his best finish of the year on a non-restrictor plate track.

Regan Smith – Finished 15th: Second top 15 in his fourth substitute race for Kasey Kahne. Finished 20th or better in three of the four races. Kahne has finished 20th or better in three of four races just once this year. He only has two top 15s in 25 starts (Daytona II, fourth), (Bristol II, 15th).

David Ragan – Finished 16th: Best finish since placing 15th in the July Daytona race.

Chris Buescher – Finished 17th: Third finish of 17th or better in the last five races.

Cole Whitt – Finished 20th: Second-best finish in 11 starts this year.

Ross Chastain – Finished 24th: Seventh finish inside the top 25 in 27 starts with Premium Motorsports.

 

Points after the Cup race at the Roval

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Kyle Busch was one of several drivers who failed to successfully navigate Turn 1 with six laps remaining in Bank of America Roval 400. He retired in 32nd.

Kevin Harvick was close on fuel until he pitted with seven laps remaining. He climbed through the field and finished ninth.

Martin Truex Jr. spun with Brad Keselowski in the closing laps of Stage 2, but he survived to challenge for the lead on the last lap. Contact between him and Jimmie Johnson resulted in a 14th-place finish.

Brad Keselowski was leading on a late-race restart. He drove too hard into Turn 1 on Lap 104 and drove head-first into the tire barrier. He finished 31st.

Clint Bowyer avoided the snapping turtles. Along with Almirola and Blaney, he spent much of the race battling for the final transfer spot. Johnson’s accident at the end of the race took the question out of whether he would advance to Round 2. Bowyer finished 3rd.

Joey Logano drove a safe race and avoided any major incidents. He finished 10th.

Kurt Busch started on the pole and led early. Once he was passed by Larson, he settled into the field and finished 5th.

Ryan Blaney snaked through the crash site of Truex and Johnson to score his first win of the season and second of his career.

Aric Almirola pitted with seven laps remaining. He finished 19th, which was enough to elevate him into Round 2 of the playoffs via a tiebreaker with Johnson and Larson.

Chase Elliott scored stage points in the first two segments (finishing 5th in Stage 1 and 6th in Stage 2), which allowed him to race with a little margin for error in Stage 3. He finished 6th.

Kyle Larson thought he was going to be eliminated from Round 2. On the final lap, Jeffrey Earnhardt crashed. His team told him to gas it to beat the crashed No. 96 to the line. Larson hit the wall twice, but won the battle to the line. He advanced to Round 2 on a tie breaker with Johnson and Almirola.

Alex Bowman spent much of the day either just above or below the 12th-place cutoff line. He ended the race two points above after finishing 4th.

Eliminated from the Playoffs

Jimmie Johnson wanted to snap his 51-race winless streak. He drove too hard into the frontstretch chicane and spun, collecting Truex in the process. In the process of his spin, he cut the chicane, was forced to stop on the fronststretch as a result and crossed the finish line 8th. That was not enough to advance him to Round 2.

Austin Dillon ran up on Chris Buescher on Lap 59 in Turn 15 (oval Turn 4) and slipped in the marbles. He made heavy contact with the wall. Six laps later, he cut a tire and hit the wall hard and sustained enough damage to cause him to retire.

Denny Hamlin sustained damage in both practice and qualifying and had to drive from the back of the grid with a backup car.

Erik Jones crashed in the backstretch chicane during Saturday’s practice and started at the rear of the field. He cut a tire on a Lap 72 restart and spun while trying to limp back to the pits.

Click here for complete points results

Starting lineup for the Bank of America Roval 400

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CONCORD, N.C. — Qualifying set the field for Sunday’s inaugural Bank of America Roval 400 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Playoff driver Kurt Busch will start first with his fourth pole of the year. AJ Allmendinger will start second with his best qualifying effort in more than two years.

The top five is completed by Alex Bowman (playoffs), Chase Elliott (playoffs) and Kyle Larson (playoffs).

The top 10 is rounded out by Jimmie Johnson (playoffs), Clint Bowyer (playoffs), Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney (playoffs) and Chris Buescher.

Denny Hamlin (playoffs) will start from the rear in a backup car after wrecking in the first round of qualifying.

Click here for the full starting lineup.

NASCAR America: Chris Buescher, analysts take a lap around the Roval

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“This is my actual training here.” Landon Cassill told Parker Kligerman as he began his hot lap of the Charlotte Roval in the iRacing simulator on Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America.

He wasn’t joking.

No one knows what to expect this weekend when NASCAR visits the Roval for the first time. Testing brought about reconfigurations and there are plenty of unknowns on this hybrid road and oval course.

Cassill had a clean lap going until he hit the frontstretch chicane that would have launched him to the checkered flag. He overcooked the center of the turn and spun into the outside wall.

“If you sit on the pole for this race, whoever does that is going to say ‘you know what I could never do that lap the same way again,’ ” Kligerman added during his lap around the track.

A more conventional lap around the Roval was provided by Chris Buescher’s in-car camera during a test session in July.

“Some corners are going to come more natural,” Cassill said while watching video of the No. 37 navigating the track. “I’m probably going to find out where the low hanging fruit is.”

Cassill will pilot the No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet in Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“Look at this,” Kligerman said. “As we ride along with Chris Buescher here from the test. I mean, elevation change, now you’re going to take this hard left onto the banking and start ripping through the gears to I believe 180 miles per hour as they are going to head for his fast chicane. This is probably the most insane part of the race track.”

For more, watch the videos above.

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AJ Allmendinger out at JTG Daugherty Racing after 2018

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AJ Allmendinger will be released from JTG Daugherty Racing after the 2018 season, the team announced Tuesday.

Allmendinger, 35, has driven the No. 47 Chevrolet for the team since 2013 when he made nine starts beginning with the June race at Michigan International Speedway. He has run full time with the team since 2014.

In 181 starts with the team, Allmendinger has one win (Watkins Glen, 2014) and 11 top fives.

He is 24th in the standings ahead of Sunday’s race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. His best result with JTG Daugherty Racing is 13th in the standings in 2014. He has not finished better than 19th in the points since that season.

“AJ Allmendinger has been a valuable asset to the growth of our company, and we are grateful for his professionalism with our brands and the passion he has shown for this race team over the years,” team co-owner Tad Geschickter said in a release. “As hard as it may be, we’re moving in a different direction for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and will be parting ways at the end of this season. It’s not an easy decision and change is never easy. We wish him the very best in his endeavors and he will always be family to us.”

Chris Buescher drivers the team’s second car in the No. 37 Chevrolet.

Allmendinger has not yet announced his plans for 2019, but Weathertech Sports Car owner Michael Shank tweeted that the driver will make at least some starts for him.

Allmendinger scored the overall victory in the 2012 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona driving for Shank.