Bank of America ROVAL 400 Analysis & Picks
Race: Bank of America ROVAL 400
Date: Sunday, October 10, 2021
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
Time: 2 pm ET
What Did We Learn from Last Weekend?
I want to say something nice. I really do. But I find it extremely hard in his enormously poor display of sportsmanship essentially since his inception to congratulate Bubba Wallace. Nonetheless, this is where we’re at. So, congratulations, Bubba Wallace. On Monday, he got his first victory in the Cup Series at Talladega in a rain-delayed and ultimately rain-shortened race. That being said, there are many out there thinking NASCAR strategized the race enough to “allow” Wallace to be in a position to take the win when the race was called. I mean, I’d like to pull that card too, but we all know that superspeedways are the ultimate in unpredictable finishes, rain or not. Between Daytona and Talladega, there have been a multitude of not only first-time winners but also only-time winners. I believe that Wallace might be part of the latter club. That said, he’s been the only non-playoff winner so far in these couple of rounds, but there wasn’t too much disruption among the top 12 after Talladega.Penske had a strong showing despite Wallace ending up with the checkers. Quite frankly, Brad would’ve caught him had the race continued, but that is neither here nor there at this point. Keselowski finished the race second, followed by teammate Joey Logano for third place. Kurt Busch and Christopher Bell rounded out the top five spots. The rest of the top ten was interesting. We had Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, and Anthony Alfredo finishing off the top of the list. There were some drivers that had notably poor days. Chase Elliott ended up 18th, with Kyle Busch finishing way back in 27th. Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, and William Byron were involved in wrecks with everyone but Larson taking home the dreaded DNF. Larson didn’t fare much better, only managing to pick up 1 point through the entire race.
Where Are We Headed This Weekend?This weekend, the drivers are finishing out the round of 12, with only eight drivers advancing. This race might be equally unpredictable as Talladega. I’m not too sure why NASCAR chose to include a road course and superspeedway in the same round, but there’s a lot of decisions that NASCAR makes that I don’t understand, so we’ll save that conversation for a later date. On Sunday, the drivers are going to Charlotte, but they’re not running on the oval. They’re running on the ROVAL. The road course is relatively new to the circuit and definitely gives us quite a bit of excitement, but road courses are kind of niche tracks for a lot of the NASCAR regulars. It’s a love-it or hate-it type relationship, and I’m not so sure it belongs in the same group as Talladega. That said, I don’t get paid to make those decisions, so here we are. The drivers are heading to this 2.28-mile asphalt road course with a total of 17 turns. The drivers have been doing this since 2018 at this point. It’s definitely a far cry from the original 500 miles that they used to run, but it can be said that it’s still just as (if not more) strenuous just based on the road course aspect of it all. As with any road course, track position is paramount. If the drivers can’t get to the front and stay there, they’re going to have a heck of a time thinking about winning at this place. While tires used to play a bigger role, we don’t see it too much, especially on the longer runs. The shorter runs might be more significant with the role of new tires, but we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Hopefully, we don’t see the track come apart as we did at an earlier road course this year. What a disaster that was.
Odds and Value PicksOne driver, who just so happens to be the defending winner here, is going to be the one to watch. Chase Elliott is a road course fiend. He’s very good on these types of tracks and will be looking for a bit of redemption after a difficult and disappointing 18th place finish at Talladega. He’s actually won the last 2 of 3 races run here, and that’s definitely something he will remember rolling into Sunday’s race. There are a number of other drivers that are comfortable on road courses, but Charlotte tends to be a little bit more challenging just because it’s very different from a lot of the other ones. The elevations aren’t nearly the same, and there are a lot more turns across the board. I think that we will see a lot of strength from the Gibbs garage and the Hendrick garages most notable. Here’s a look at your potential winners heading into this weekend’s activities:
- Winner: Chase Elliott +220
- Mid-Range Pick: Alex Bowman +2500
- Dark Horse: Kurt Busch +2800
Bowman has always started well and finished well. In fact, he’s started in the top 5 in all three of his starts here. His worst finish is 8th. With a shaky weekend last weekend, look for Bowman to try to rise up and get a Hail Mary. Kurt Busch is no longer in contention for the championship, but that doesn’t mean he’s not driving as hard as he would on any other weekend.
As you can see, with his top 5 finish at Talladega, Busch is still driving as skillfully as ever. That will serve him well at a road course. In his three starts here, he’s had 2 top ten starts, 2 top 5 finishes, and a start and finish in the 20s. That’s pretty indicative of how vital a good starting position is here and also maintaining track position. Everyone here will be chasing Chase, though. This kid has got *it*. He’s got the road courses figured out, and this is a great opportunity for him to gain some ground and ensure that he moves forward to the round of 8. Let’s take a look at the current standings after Talladega.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Larson
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Ryan Blaney
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Christopher Bell
- William Byron
- Alex Bowman
Harvick, Bell, Byron, and Bowman are fighting for a win. Honestly, Byron and Bowman need to pray for a win or for the rest of the playoff contenders to have a really bad day. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll likely be cut after Sunday. Hamlin still holds strong at the top of the standings, staying 22 points ahead of Kyle Larson. It’s not over, though. I’m not sure that Hamlin is going to maintain that lead after this weekend. While both he and Larson are strong road course drivers, I think Larson will edge him out on Sunday. I might eat my words. Who knows. Y’all will have to stay tuned and watch a great road course race on Sunday at Charlotte to find out!