THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR: Bank of America ROVAL 400 preview, predictions
It's the final race of the Round of 12 as the championship playoff picture continues to take shape. This race has a tendency to provide plenty of chaos and with the rain that could be on the way, we could be in for a wild weekend. With it being an elimination race, there is a great chance we see a lot of drivers do everything they can to try and advance. Come Sunday, 11 drivers will have to race as their season depends on it, as only 22 points separate second from ninth. This is shaping up to be a race to remember.
Last week Bubba Wallace finally breakthrough for his first career victory after rain halted the race. Overall, while the racing was pretty incredible, it seemed like everyone knew the race was not going to go its scheduled distance. Before the race was stopped there were multiple big wrecks taking out the likes of Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, and Kyle Busch. Even if the circumstances were unfortunate that the race couldn't be completed, this was a huge moment for the sport as Wallace becomes the first black driver since Wendell Scott in 1964 to win at the Talladega Superspeedway.
The battle for the eighth and final transfer spot is as tight as it's been all season. As I alluded to earlier, Kyle Larson who is second in points is only +22 points ahead of the ninth-place cut-off line. The only driver that is safe is Denny Hamlin after his huge win two weeks ago in Las Vegas. Currently, Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron, and Alex Bowman are the four cars out. The driver who is sitting on the bubble is Kyle Busch. After his abysmal 27th place finish at Talladega, he is now only nine points safe. To miss the round of eight would be a huge disappointment for a team that had championship aspirations. This is also a track where he's struggled immensely. In the three races here, Rowdy has yet to finish better than 30th. That won't cut it if he wants to move on to the next round.
It was an expensive day for Hendrick Motorsports as all four cars sustained crash damage. It started when Kyle Larson crashed in the tri-oval early in the race. It wasn't long before his teammates Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott joined him in a massive crash in turn four, then William Byron completed the superfecta after a fiery crash. For Larson, he has accumulated so many stage points that he will probably be okay, but for his teammates, this week is going to be dire. Alex Bowman is in must-win territory as he's 12th in points and 84 points back, William Byron also needs a victory as well to move on, so it's safe to say at least one of the Hendrick four won't make it.
With all that being said, the driver I have winning this week is Chase Elliott. When it comes to road courses, Chase has truly become the king of the road. In his past six starts, he's finished no worse than fourth. Last season he dominated this race as he scored 49 points and led 27 laps en route to his third consecutive victory at the Roval. After a bad week at Talladega, there is nothing better than rebounding with a victory. Look for him to be a threat for a four-peat this Sunday as he starts 8th.