Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Meghana Sree
After an exciting second week of the round of 12, we head to Charlotte for the final race of the round. The playoff race is still wide open, with Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, and Tyler Reddick still hanging below the cut line. Can any of these drivers secure a win in the Roval and secure a transfer to the round of eight?
Talladega Race Debrief
At the end of stage one, in an unlucky incident, Ross Chastain was taken out by Kyle Busch, who was blocked by a slow Ricky Stenhouse Jr running with no fuel left in the tank. Unfortunately for Chastain, his car was beyond repairs and had to be retired. He is currently ten points below the cutline, which puts him in a position that might require him to win the race in Roval to advance.
Another unlucky driver was Brad Keselowski. Keselowski spun around Hocevar in the 42, which set up a chain reaction that took Keselowski out as well. He took a big hit to his left rear from an out of control Austin Dillon which completely broke his chassis, resulting in a DNF. He is currently two points above the cut line, with Tyler Reddick right behind him.
Ryan Blaney finally ended the 16-race winless streak, taking the win and the ticket to the round of eight. In the final lap, Blaney made a move to overtake Harvick on the back straight, and barely held onto the lead, finishing ahead of Harvick by mere centimeters. After months of poor luck, Blaney finally returns to victory lane and a shot to the final four for the first time.
The Roval is a road course layout of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, located in Concord, North Carolina. It has seventeen turns, with a length of 2.280 miles (3.669 kilometers). This year will be the sixth Roval race in the history of NASCAR.
The drivers will start off with a short one to turn one, a 90 degree left turn. Then, drivers will take a long left to turns three and four, where drivers will take two consecutive turns onto the mile long back straight. At the end of the straight, the drivers will turn slightly right down turn five towards a downhill medium right turn six.
Then a long downhill left turn towards turn eight, which leads right back into the oval. After two thirds into the back straight, drivers will approach a bus stop chicane, a key overtaking spot and also a hot spot for crashes and accidents. After the final oval turn, the drivers will end the lap with a chicane right before the start finish lane. Pit entry will be right before the final chicane, and drivers will merge on the short run between turns two and three.
The drivers will run 109 laps around the track, with 25 laps each in stages one and two, and 59 laps in the final stage. One thing to note is that there will be no stage breaks because it’s a road course, a rule implemented before the start of the 2023 season.
The weather report indicates that there will be no rain for the weekend. The race will commence at 14:00 ET (11:00 PT, 20:00 CEST) on 8th October.
A main contender for the race win would be the Chevrolet of Kyle Larson. The Chevrolet has won three times out of the five races the road course configuration was utilized, and Larson took one of those race wins in 2021, his championship year. He is currently only 15 points clear of the cut line, so he might need a masterful performance again to pass through the round of 12 safely.
However, the kings of road course would be the Toyotas. They consistently qualify within the top five on road courses, and have won two of the four road courses so far this season. Reddick is arguably the best in road courses in the field, qualifying second in COTA, Sonoma, and Indianapolis, while taking a win in COTA. He has been able to consistently be in the mix at the top during road course races, and he has a good history at the Roval, finishing second in 2021. He is currently two points under the cut line, so a win can take him straight to the round of eight. We will see if he is able to bring the 45 car to the round of eight for the first time in 23XI history.