NASCAR Cup playoff race at Charlotte: How to watch, starting lineup and predictions
NASCAR arrives at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the second playoff elimination race on Sunday. The Roval 400 starts at 2:30 p.m. on NBC.
The 2.32-mile, 17-corner Roval is the second road circuit team this year, having raced the Cup Series for the first time on the Daytona road circuit in August. This race was won by Chase Elliott, the defending champion from Roval. Ryan Blaney won the first race on the same track configuration in 2018.
Elliott starts in the front row with Talladega winner Denny Hamlin from last weekend on pole. Hamlin and Kurt Busch (win in Las Vegas) reach the round of 16 after Charlotte, while Kevin Harvick (+68) only needs eight points to secure his place in the next round if there is a new winner.
Elliott (+44), Brad Keselowski (+41) and Martin Truex Jr. (+32) have a light pillow. Alex Bowman (+22) and Joey Logano (+21) are sitting just above the eight-driver cutoff to move forward. Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon are 21 points below the bubble. Clint Bowyer (-38) and Aric Almirola (-48) need a top finish, if not a win, in every stage.
Busch said the race will boil down to "attrition" and that there is no plan for his team to calculate a specific finishing position in order to earn enough points to move forward.
"Just run," said Busch. "Race as best we can, as best we can."
The teams also prepare for the weekend with Goodyear tires in wet weather. More information about rain races can be found here.
It will likely rain and bring around 6,700 fans back to the speedway. Logs on other speedways that NASCAR hosted events during the COVID-19 pandemic are in place. However, fans must also wear their masks at all times, including on their seats. This is a rule that is specific to Charlotte's Speedway.
A full list of health and safety protocols for the Roval 400 weekend can be found here.
NASCAR PLAYOFF DRIVER POINTS STANDINGS
win (Las Vegas)
NASCAR CUP RACE PREDICTIONS AT CHARLOTTE
Those with the best odds on multiple sports betting websites are Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney are also considered to be top competitors. Since Elliott starts at the front, especially in potentially wet conditions that are likely to restrict passage, he seems like the best bet. Half of Elliott's eight wins were on street courses.
WEATHER FOR NASCAR CUP RACE AT CHARLOTTE
In Concord, North Carolina, it will likely rain on Sunday. According to the National Weather Service and AccuWeather.com, the percentage of rainfall in the afternoon is between 70% and 80%. About a third of an inch of rain is expected. Cup teams have four sets of wet tires available. When the race starts and it's raining, the teams can decide whether to switch to the rainy weather setup. Depending on how damp the track is, NASCAR will call before the race if the teams need to switch to the other tires.
"It's tough enough just to get by the wayside and make it to the end. I think if you get the surface wet it will be pretty wild," said Truex Jr.
HOW TO WATCH THE NASCAR CUP ROVAL RACE AT CHARLOTTE
Cup race: Bank of America Roval 400 Distance: 253 miles, 109 laps (stages end on laps 25, 50, 109). The distance is 2.32 miles. When: Sunday 2:30 p.m. TV: NBC (broadcast starts at 2 p.m.) Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Last Charlotte winner: Chase Elliott
NASCAR CUP RACE AT CHARLOTTE STARTING LINEUP
Denny Hamlin *
Chase Elliott *
Brad Keselowski *
Kevin Harvick *
Alex Bowman *
Austin Dillon *
Martin Truex Jr. *
Joey Logano *
Kyle Busch *
Kurt Busch *
Clint Bowyer *
Aric Almirola *
John Hunter Nemechek
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
* Playoff driver
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