After the cluster that was Talladega, the stars of NASCAR‘s premier series makes their way to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the last road course race of the year on the Roval. With victories earlier in the round, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin have spots secured to the Round of Eight. Throwing an additional monkey into the wrench is the weather: to start the race, the drivers began on rain tires due to rain throughout the weekend.
With the threat of rain throughout the day, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott led the field to green shortly after 11:30 am PST. As the drivers carefully navigated through the wet track, Brad Keselowski was able to get by Denny Hamlin and lead the first lap. Coming out of Turn Two, Chase Elliott was able to get by Brad Keselowski and took over the lead on Lap Eight. As the drivers completed Lap Ten, the competition caution, NASCAR threw the competition caution. The drivers came down to the pits for service with Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. leading the field back to green.
Needing a win to advance, Clint Bower powered past Martin Truex Jr. and assumed to lead on Lap 15. As the final few laps of Stage One wound down, the lead lap cars began making green-flag pit stops to switch out their rain tires to slick tires. Ty Dillon, one of the first drivers on slick tires, made his way past Clint Bowyer, on rain tires, for the lead. On fresh slick tires, Denny Hamlin spun through Turn Four but was able to continue. The following lap, John Hunter Nemechek brought out the second caution of the day as he spun and got stuck in the wet grass. Clint Bowyer came to the pits as he and his team believed that the stage was to resume with one lap left. The stage restarted with one lap left as Ty Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto led the field back to green. Ty Dillon navigated the course with precision and took the green-and-white checkered flag with Christopher Bell in second. Under caution, most of the lead lap cars stayed on track while Ty Dillon gave up the lead to the pits.
Christopher Bell, on the outside line, brought the field back to green with Matt DiBenedetto on the inside. Crossing the line to begin Lap Five, William Byron was able to get by Christopher Bell for the lead as the drivers entered Turn One. On the inside of Turn Four, Brad Keselowski spun, blocking Erik Jones and Matt DiBenedetto on the track. All cars were able to continue after losing multiple positions. The following lap, second-place running Christopher Bell hit the water and spun around in Turn Three, suffering no damage.
As the laps ticked away, Ryan Blaney was able to make gains on the leader and overtook Byron for the lead. With six laps left in the second stage, Denny Hamlin entered the pits for green-flag pit stops. Drivers began to follow as the caution flag came out with five laps left as JJ Yeley spun and crashed in Turn Five. The field split with some cars coming to the pits for service while the remainder stayed out.
With two laps left in the stage, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney led the field back to green. Coming out of Turn Three, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer made contact with Busch suffering a flat left front tire. Busch eventually made it to the pits, falling to the back of the field. Denny Hamlin spun on the backstretch on the final lap as Ryan Blaney took the green-and-white checkered flag, ending Stage Two. The leaders came down to the pits for service with Ryan Blaney exiting first.
Christopher Bell and William Byron restarted on the front row as Stage Three commenced with Chase Elliott making an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel. William Byron was able to get around Christopher Bell through Turn One for the lead. Cole Custer went around in the middle of the track, causing a stack-up that included James Davison and Denny Hamlin. All drivers were able to continue, and the race stayed green with Davison suffering significant damage.
Ty Dillon brought out the fifth caution of the day with 45 laps left in the race as he got off track and made contact with the wall. While most cars came down to the pits for service, the front cars, including Clint Bowyer, stayed out. The race resumed with 41 laps left in the race as Christopher Bell and William Byron led the field back to green. William Byron was able to pull ahead with the lead, as Clint Bowyer followed in second.
Austin Dillon brought out the sixth caution of the day as he and Kyle Busch made contact with Dillon coming to a stop before the start/finish line. All lead lap cars came down to the pits for their last scheduled pitstop of the day for tires and fuel. Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the field back to green with 37 laps left in the race. Entering Turn One, Bubba Wallace and Stenhouse Jr. made contact with Stenhouse Jr. going around. During the stack-up, Clint Bowyer suffered front end damage. He continued to fall back through the pack as the leader, Ryan Blaney, got off track and spun.
Emerging from the chaos, Ryan Preece inherited the lead with Alex Bowman in second. With 28 laps left in the race, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott got around Ryan Preece to take over first and second. Two laps later, Chase Elliott was able to get around Alex Bowman for the lead. The caution flew for debris with 23 laps left in the race. All lead lap cars came down for tires and fuel while Kyle Busch stayed out and assumed the lead.
Kyle Busch, with Christopher Bell to his inside, brought the field back to green with 20 laps left in the race. Erik Jones was able to get around his teammate for the lead with Chase Elliott moving up to second. Not content with second, Chase Elliott got around Erik Jones with a crossover move with 18 laps left to go. Brennan Poole brought out the caution with 12 laps left in the race as his car stalled on the track. The cars at the front of the pack stayed out while those in the back came down for service.
Chase Elliott and Erik Jones brought the field back to green with ten laps left in the race. Elliott was able to maintain the lead as Joey Logano took over the second position. Despite drivers slipping and sliding over the final few laps, no one could stop Chase Elliott as he took the Bank of America Roval 400 and won his fourth road course in a row.
The Charlotte Roval provided plenty of drama as the cutoff race for the NASCAR Playoffs. With Chase Elliott punching his ticket, he joins Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Logano, Truex Jr., and Bowman as the remaining drivers moving on. Clint Bowyer, who announced his retirement earlier in the week, along with Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola, did not advance. Kyle Busch, looking to defend his 2019 NASCAR Championship, fell short and was eliminated as well.
Next week, the Round of Eight make their way to Kansas Speedway to begin the next round. What were your thoughts on today’s race?