With elimination on the line, the NASCAR Cup Series heads for the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval to bring the Round of 12 to a close Sunday.
Prime yourself with what’s at stake, some history, odds and much more before the Bank of America Roval 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
WET WEATHER TIRES AND PROCEDURES
If conditions warrant, Goodyear’s wet-weather radials will be available to teams in both series. NASCAR Cup Series teams will have up to five sets of rain tires for the race, while Xfinity Series teams will have up to four sets for their race. Wet weather tires were last used by teams this spring at the Circuit of The Americas tripleheader weekend in May. Wet weather tires were also utilized during the Roval weekend by both series last year.
The treaded wet-weather tires will be further distinguished by white “Goodyear Eagle” lettering instead of the customary yellow on the sidewalls.
In the event of inclement weather, each series’ race director can declare a “wet” start or “damp” start, according to the NASCAR Rule Book. A wet start means that the entire racing surface is covered in moisture; a damp start means that the track has areas of moisture, but that other areas are dry. The race director can also declare the conditions not race-ready, if heavy downpours cause puddles and impaired visibility.
For a wet weather start:
- All vehicles must mount rain tires, activate their rear flashing light and have a working windshield wiper installed.
- Normal starting procedures follow.
For a damp weather start:
- All vehicles may elect to install rain tires at the crew chief’s discretion. The rear flashing light must be activated, and windshield wipers may be installed.
- Any team making a pit stop for rain tires on subsequent pace laps will forfeit its starting spot.
After the green flag, teams are permitted to change tires — to treaded rain tires or dry-weather slicks — at the crew chief’s discretion.
STARTING THE SHOW
For the second week in a row, Denny Hamlin has earned the honor of leading the field to the green flag Sunday. He’ll do so beside Brad Keselowski, with Joey Logano and Christopher Bell making up Row 2 and Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney together in Row 3. For the entire starting lineup, click here.
MORE TURNS, MORE OFFICIATING
NASCAR officials will be hard at work monitoring corner cutting around the 17-turn road course. By rule, if a competitor cuts or misses one of the two chicanes on track, that driver must stop at a designated location on track or will be issued a pass-through penalty for shortcutting the course.
“Additional cameras are put up to make sure that the competitors are not shortcutting the course and obviously there’s a competitive advantage there,” Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s vice president of officiating and technical inspection, said in a Tuesday appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “So that’s just one item that we have. I think it’s really just a mindset that we’re not at an oval; we’re at a road course, and the rules that apply to road-course racing is more balancing, more challenging. But we have more turns, we have more opportunities for things to happen, so let’s be on our toes there.”
HISTORY OF THE ROVAL
— Charlotte Motor Speedway introduced the idea of combining its oval layout with its infield road course in early 2017, beginning with a test with AJ Allmendinger on an 18-turn, 2.3-mile layout that January.
— After the test, that initial layout was altered to remove a turn from the infield portion while adding one chicane on the backstretch before Turn 3 of the oval as well as a chicane exiting the oval’s Turn 4 before the start-finish line.
— The NASCAR Cup Series held its first race on the Roval in the fall of 2018, where last-lap, last-corner contact between race leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson allowed Ryan Blaney to scoot through for the victory.
— The Roval is the only road course to host a playoff race since NASCAR introduced a postseason format in 2004.
— While a Stage 1 winner at the Roval has never gone on to finish in the top 10 in the three races held there, the Stage 2 victor has gone to Victory Lane twice.
— There have been four or more cautions in the final stage of each Roval race.
Source: Racing Insights
NASCAR Cup Series teams will utilize the 750-horsepower, low-downforce package in Charlotte on Sunday. This is the same rules package used at each of the other road courses on this year’s schedule as well as all ovals shorter than 1.4 miles in length, featuring shorter front splitters and rear spoilers.
TWISTING THROUGH THE STORYLINES
— Entering Charlotte beneath the elimination line are Kevin Harvick (-9), Christopher Bell (-28), William Byron (-44) and Alex Bowman (-52).
— Hendrick Motorsports has won each of the last three elimination races in the playoffs (Chase Elliott, 2020 Round of 8, 2020 Championship 4; Kyle Larson, 2021 Round of 16).
— Chase Elliott has won each of the last two races at the Roval. He and Ryan Blaney are the only drivers with wins at this track.
— Denny Hamlin is the only competitor locked into the Round of 8 courtesy of his victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bubba Wallace’s win at Talladega Superspeedway prevented other playoff drivers from advancing last weekend.
— Chase Elliott has won six of the last 10 road-course races, including this year’s inaugural events at Circuit of The Americas and Road America.
— The average length of a green-flag run at the Roval is 10 laps or less.
— Since 2016, only Denny Hamlin (2019, Phoenix Raceway) and Chase Elliott (2020, Martinsville Speedway) have entered an elimination race beneath the elimination line and advanced with a win.
— No drivers in the 2020 playoffs entered a cut race beneath the elimination line and advanced on points. William Byron and Alex Bowman both accomplished the feat at Bristol Motor Speedway to exit this year’s Round of 16.
Source: Racing Insights
RIGHT TURNS, RIGHT BETS
Chase Elliott is as straightforward a favorite as you can imagine, according to BetMGM. Elliott is listed as a 2-1 favorite, far from a surprise considering his recent domination on the layout. Kyle Larson isn’t far behind at 9-2 odds with wins in two of the last four road-course events, but he did miss the Roval race one year ago.
AJ Allmendinger may be a strong bet come Sunday. Along with being the first driver to test the course, Allmendinger started second and finished seventh in his lone Cup appearance at the Roval. He followed that up by winning each of the last two Xfinity Series events there, and at 20-1 odds after his Indianapolis Road Course victory, he is sure to be a contender this weekend.
Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out the playoff version of NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now and offers a fresh start for those of you who played the regular-season contest. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts, and there is a $10,000 prize for the winner.
The 2021 Fantasy Live points leaders are Denny Hamlin (1,256) Kyle Larson (1,209), and Chase Elliott (1,021).
This year, NASCAR.com also has the Playoffs Grid Challenge game, presented by Ruoff Mortgage, where you can pick the winners for each round of the playoffs right up through the Championship 4. First prize is $10,000.
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.
New for this season, NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.
And finally, head over to the NASCAR Mobile App for AR Racing presented by Mobil 1, where you can design your own car and race the playoff drivers at the playoff tracks in augmented reality.