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October 6, 2023

What to Watch: Avoiding trouble at Charlotte road course key to advancing

Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

(⏰ Sunday, 2 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC, NBC Sports App | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Charlotte road course, the 32nd points-paying race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | Charlotte playoff race 101

📍 Location: Concord, North Carolina
📐 Track length: 2.28 miles
🎟️ Buy tickets: Find weekend passes, seats for the race
💰 Cup Series race purse: $7,689,910
📏 Race distance: 109 laps | 252.88 miles
🔢 Stages: 25 | 50 | 109

📋 Starting lineup: Reddick on pole at Charlotte Roval
🚗 Pit stall assignments:
See where drivers will pit
🏆 Defending winner: Christopher Bell, fall 2022

Key things to watch 🔑

Saturday’s sessions

23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick claimed the pole for Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. The No. 45 Toyota will lead the Cup Series field to green, entering the final race in the Round of 12 as Reddick sits two points below the elimination line. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell made it an all-Toyota front row after missing out on another pole. Daniel Suárez, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch completed the top five. | Read the full practice, qualifying recap

Big story line

Can Tyler Reddick’s road-course strength help him avoid elimination?

After finishes of 25th and 16th to kick off the Round of 12, Reddick finds himself two points below the elimination line. As an impressive road-course racer in the NASCAR Cup Series, the elimination race at Charlotte may give the driver of the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota a much-needed lift at the right time. Reddick enters Charlotte with three consecutive finishes of 15th or worse after he finished in the top two in the first two playoff races. To say the least, road courses are his bread and butter.

He has an average finish of 7.33 at the Charlotte road course, which is the best of the current playoff drivers. In the last two Charlotte Roval races, Reddick has two straight finishes of eighth place or better. In the Next Gen era, we have seen a lot of parity with different winners on various types of tracks. One stat makes Reddick’s road-course racing prowess stand out. He is the only driver with multiple road-course wins in the Next Gen car, with three victories turning left and right. He won at Circuit of The Americas earlier this year in the spring. If Reddick can score valuable stage points and stay out of trouble, he will have a good chance to keep his hopes of a deep playoff run alive. | Relive Reddick’s road-course win at COTA | Watch the race on NASCAR Classics

History tells us…

Chase Elliott has a shot at getting his first win of 2023.

Despite not being a part of the playoffs this year, Elliott is putting together a list of good runs as the No. 9 team looks to close out 2023 on a strong note. Since the postseason got underway, Elliott’s average finish is 7.8, which is third best among all drivers. If he wins on Sunday, we may have to start referring to Elliott as “Mr. October” because this particular month ranks as a sweet spot for him. In the month of October, Elliott visited Victory Lane a total of four times, which is his most wins in a single month. The Hendrick Motorsports driver comes to the Charlotte road course riding a hot streak recently.

In the last six races, the No. 9 Chevrolet has five top-10 finishes. In four of five career starts at the Charlotte Roval, he has led 94 laps. He won this race back-to-back in 2019 and 2020. Since then, he has had two straight finishes of 12th or worse, after his first three Charlotte Roval starts were sixth or better. While the last couple of years at the Charlotte Roval have not produced strong results, the No. 9 team’s recent momentum suggests that group is getting closer to a major breakthrough win. | All of Chase Elliott’s NASCAR Cup Series wins

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Alex Bowman.
After starting the year off strong and dipping in performance since returning from injury, Bowman’s 2023 season has had its disappointing moments. In his last 21 starts, the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has 18 finishes of 11th or worse, including three DNFs. In his last three races, Bowman has finished no better than 12th. Luckily for him, the Charlotte road course is one of his most consistent tracks. In four career starts here, he has four top-10 finishes.

Bowman is the only active Cup Series driver to never finish outside the top 10 at the Charlotte Roval. His best finish was second in 2019 but he has only led two laps in those four starts. The odds of seeing Bowman in Victory Lane at Charlotte are 35-1. Given how this season has gone, Bowman getting the win might qualify as a surprise. However, another top-10 finish is not out of the question, considering his consistency at the Charlotte Roval.

Familiar favorites ⭐️

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– At-track photos: Sights and scenes from Charlotte | Photos
– Bubble Watch: Another walk-off win lurks at the Roval | Read more
– Fantasy Fastlane: Racing for points or the win at the Charlotte Roval? | Get the advice
– Paint Scheme Preview: See the schemes for Charlotte road course | Pick a favorite
– Power Rankings: Will Charlotte mark the spot Kyle Busch gets back into title hunt? | Latest driver rankings
– Stacking Pennies:
ESPN’s Marty Smith joins Corey LaJoie to discuss his new book and old NASCAR stories. | Listen to the podcast

💎 NASCAR 75: Learn more about the history of the sport, from pioneers to current stars | Visit NASCAR 75 hub

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.

– Fantasy Live: Participate in interactive gameplay from week to week | Choose your lineup
– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance:
2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

🔮 Advance to Victory Lane: Racing Insights projects the finishing order