Some late-race excitement at Talladega (with many running out of fuel) opened the door for Aric Almirola — not the unlikeliest of winners but certainly “unlikeliest adjacent” — now advancing to the Round of 8. Chase Elliott booked his flight a week prior at Dover, and now we’ve got a must-win situation for a bunch of talented drivers. Four head home today (well, they’ll still race next week but you get the picture) and the field is truncated once more.
Here’s what to look for:
–Joey Logano captures his first Pole of the season, and at an elimination race no less. Statistically, his worst track on the entire circuit — 18.1 average finish, but somehow eeked out two Wins. This’ll be a very interesting race to watch with the 22.
–Kevin Harvick will start 2nd, and he won at this track back in May (after starting from Pole). That’s got to be a solid boost to his confidence heading in here. Harvick did exceptional at ‘Dega before his tank ran dry; we’ve seen fuel mileage wins here before, expect them to keep Harvick and the #4 well nourished.
–Ryan Blaney calls this his best track, and what a time for that to happen. If the Round of 8 cutoff was last week, he’s be out, so you know he’ll be up on the wheel today. Blaney has four Top 10s in seven attempts here, but has yet to taste victory. Today could be that day; he starts 4th.
–Martin Truex Jr. won this race in 2017, and ran runner-up in May. He hasn’t been quite as hot as he was last year, but he’s still quite a talent. Not quite as safe as he was at this point last year, Truex needs to avoid drama today and simply deliver.
–Chris Buescher ran 6th at this race in 2017, and has surprised other times before. He’s got some work to do starting 21st. Silver lining — he’s already halfway to the front.
Coverage of the race starts on NBC at 2:30pm, green flag scheduled for 2:37pm.