We’re back at our favorite road course / oval, and it is the third time this season that we’ve come to Charlotte. We had the 600 and a “bonus” 500k race earlier this season with NASCAR’s return, but we’ve resumed the normal schedule, and things are progressing as they are. Last week, Denny Hamlin rose above the chaos at Talladega to advance into the Round of 8. Today is an elimination race; four more drivers will find themselves on the outside looking in.
Here’s what to look for:
–Chase Elliott was our big winner here last year, and is the favorite to win today’s race as well. He’s been “up there” in each of the races recently, but hasn’t finished 1st in any of them to secure berth into the next Round. Is today the day? Count on it!
-Our best driver in terms of average here is Alex Bowman, receiving news earlier this week (or rather, we got the news) that he’ll be driving the #48 next year with Jimmie Johnson moving on. With a 3.0 across two races, Bowman will have a tough time maintaining or improving that average.
-Another guy moving on is Clint Bowyer, announcing this week that he’ll be on the commentary booth in 2021. He’s been in the #14 since Tony Stewart left the seat, and is still alive in the Playoffs. He’s got some good numbers here, too, second among active drivers with 3.5 average finish. That is the same as Chase, and only behind Bowman. Could Bowyer surprise today?
–Ryan Blaney has been eliminated from the Playoffs already, but he was actually our first winner here back in 2018. He inherited the lead on the final turn(s) of the race and a crazy ending, but a Win is a Win. He finished 8th last year so it isn’t all bad since then. And he’s still eligible to win, no rules against that!
–Kevin Harvick is 5th among active drivers, a 6.0 average and a 3rd last Fall. This guy is way secure heading into the home stretch, but he could certainly block a few today from advancing, too. Reminder: if in the Playoffs, you need to have a Win in either of these three races, or be secure in the Top 8 in points (where winners get preferential treatment). Today is going to be something else.
Coverage of the race starts on NBC at 2:300pm, green flag scheduled for 2:32pm.