The lineup for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8 will be decided in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
Entering the race, the final event in the Round of 12, Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman are below the cutline. Bowman will miss the race — and thus the cutoff — as he continues to battle concussion-like symptoms. Noah Gragson is scheduled to drive the No. 48 Chevrolet Sunday.
Cindric is tied with Chase Briscoe for the eighth playoff spot, but Briscoe would claim it on the tiebreaker. Byron is 11 points back, and Bell is 33. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty to Byron that dropped him below the cutline. That appeal is scheduled to be heard Thursday.
Any playoff driver who wins Sunday’s race and isn’t already qualified — Chase Elliott qualified for the Round of 8 by winning last week at Talladega Superspeedway — automatically advances to the Round of 8.
Drivers to watch Sunday at the Roval (2 p.m., ET, NBC), the final road-course race of the season:
- Points position: 1st
- Last three races: Won at Talladega, 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol
- Past at CMS Roval: Won in 2019 and 2020
Elliott is the clear favorite to win a second championship. He won Sunday at Talladega to advance to the Round of 8 and can relax Sunday at Charlotte having punched his ticket. Relaxing isn’t likely, however, as Elliott will be among the favorites to win.
- Points position: 2nd
- Last three races: 2nd at Talladega, 4th at Texas, 30th at Bristol
- Past at CMS Roval: Won in 2018.
Blaney continues along a path that could result in him winning the Cup championship without winning a race. He came within an eyelash of winning Sunday at Talladega but fell victim to Chase Elliott’s last-lap charge. He should be a threat Sunday at the Roval, where he has four straight top 10s.
- Points position: 6th
- Last three races: 18th at Talladega, 9th at Texas, 5th at Bristol
- Past at CMS Roval: Won in 2021
Larson’s last win — and his last top-four finish — came at Watkins Glen seven races ago. He is 18 points over the cutline entering Sunday’s race.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
- Points position: 9th
- Last three races: 9th at Talladega, 15th at Texas, 20th at Bristol
- Past at CMS Roval: Sunday will mark his first Cup race. Has three top threes in four Xfinity starts.
Cindric hasn’t won since the season-opening Daytona 500 and is one of five drivers still in the playoffs who own only one victory this year. His ninth-place run at Talladega ended a streak of four straight finishes of 12th or worse.
- Points position: 7th
- Last three races: 8th at Talladega, 12th at Texas, 19th at Bristol
- Past at CMS Roval: Best finish in four starts is 13th
Suarez is 12 points above the cutline entering Sunday’s race. He has never led a lap at the Roval and has never finished in the top 10.
- Points position: 8th
- Last three races: 10th at Talladega, 5th at Texas, 14th at Bristol
- Past at CMS Roval: Finished 22nd last year in his only Cup start
Briscoe is teetering on top of the cutline in search of a spot in the Round of 8. He hasn’t won since the fourth race of the year at Phoenix and had a poor performance at the Roval last year.