Playoff spots on the line at NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 elimination race at the ROVAL
Regular-season champ Chase Elliott won his way into the Round of 8 with his victory at Talladega last weekend, leaving seven spots still on the line come Sunday.
Chase Briscoe currently resides in the eighth and final transfer spot on points in the next round. Outside the cutoff looking in are NASCAR Cup Series rookie Austin Cindric (-0 points), who is tied with Briscoe in points, but Briscoe owns the tiebreaker of best finish in this round, then William Byron (-11) in 10th, Christopher Bell (-33) in 11th, and Alex Bowman (-54) in 12th.
Cindric (3,069 points) teeters along the Playoffs’ Round of 8 cutoff in the first spot outside the cutline (ninth) tied with Briscoe in the eighth and final transfer spot. Briscoe currently owns the tiebreaker between the two of best finish in the Round of 12; he finished fifth at Texas to Cindric’s best finish of ninth last weekend at Talladega.
Only two previous rookies have earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs prior to Cindric this season – Denny Hamlin (2006) and Chase Elliott (2016). If Cindric were to advance out of the Round of 12 and into the Round of 8, he would become the first rookie in the ‘elimination-style’ Playoff Era (2016-2022) to accomplish the feat. Elliott was eliminated in the Round of 12 in 2016.
Byron (3,058 points) is currently 10th in the Playoff outlook standings 11 points back from Briscoe (3,069 points) in eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings – the final transfer spot to the Round of 8.
Byron could feel optimistic about this weekend though, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course is one of his better tracks. In four starts at the 2.32-mile road course he posted two top-10 finishes and a pole. Plus, he is top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories: an Average Running Position of 9.215 (series-best), a Driver Rating of 109.9 (third-best) and 30 Fastest Laps Run (third-best). He also leads the series in laps led at the Charlotte ROVAL with 80 laps out front (18.6% of his laps completed). Byron is looking to advance out of the second round of the Cup Playoffs for the first time in his career.
Bell (3,036 points) in his second appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs finds himself in 11th in the Round of 12 standings, 33 points back from the cutline as the series heads to Charlotte for the second elimination race of the postseason.
Bell has made two starts at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, posting one top-10 finish and has an average finish of 16.0. The Oklahoma native is looking to advance out of the Round of 12 for the first time in his career.
Bowman (3,032 points) is ranked 12th in the Playoff standings 54 points back from the Round of 8 cutline. Bowman will not be in the No. 48 Chevrolet this weekend because of ongoing issues with a concussion suffered in a Sept. 25 accident at Texas Motor Speedway. Noah Gragson will be behind the wheel for the team, making his Cup Series track debut at the Charlotte ROVAL.
Gragson does have three Xfinity Series starts at the 2.32-mile track, putting up two top fives and three top 10s.
NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook
|Rank||Drivers||Points||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||+/- Cutoff|
|1||Chase Elliott||3,103||5||6||46||In On Wins|