NASCAR: Playoff elimination at Charlotte – who’s in, who’s out?

NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

The second elimination race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is upon us at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Who is in and who is out?

The third and final race of the second of four rounds of the 10-race 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the Bank of America Roval 400, is scheduled to take place this afternoon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

After this race, the third race ever at the track, four of the remaining 12 playoff drivers will be eliminated from championship contention, while the other eight will move on to compete in the three-race round of 8.

The round of 8 includes events at Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway to set the field for the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

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Two drivers, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, have already secured their spots in the round of 8.

Busch won the round of 12 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Hamlin won last Sunday afternoon’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. Here is a look at how the other 10 remaining playoff drivers stack up heading into this afternoon’s 109-lap race around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile (3.669-kilometer) roval course in Concord, North Carolina.

Position – Driver: Points (Ahead/Behind)
3rd – Kevin Harvick: 3121 (+68)
4th – Chase Elliott: 3097 (+44)
5th – Brad Keselowski: 3094 (+41)
6th – Martin Truex Jr.: 3085 (+32)
7th – Alex Bowman: 3075 (+22)
8th – Joey Logano: 3074 (+21)
9th – Kyle Busch: 3053 (-21)
9th – Austin Dillon: 3053 (-21)
11th – Clint Bowyer: 3036 (-38)
12th – Aric Almirola: 3026 (-48)

Every driver in the field is guaranteed to score at least one point, and a maximum of 55 points are on the table for each non-winner, as stage one wins are worth 10 points, stage two wins are worth 10 points, and second place race finishes are worth 35 points. As a result, every non-winner in the field has the potential to make up 54 points on any given driver.

A win by any driver will automatically qualify him for the round of 8, but a win from a driver below the round of 8 cut line in this afternoon’s race would effectively move that cut line up by one position, resulting in a shift of each driver’s gap to safety.

For example, Chase Elliott is 44 points ahead of the current round of 8 cut line, but he is only 23 points ahead of where that same cut line could be should an upset winner emerge this afternoon.

Here is how that scenario looks.

Position – Driver: Points (Ahead/Behind)
3rd – Busch/Dillon/Bowyer/Almirola (NEW WINNER)
4th – Kevin Harvick: 3121 (+47)
5th – Chase Elliott: 3097 (+23)
6th – Brad Keselowski: 3094 (+20)
7th – Martin Truex Jr.: 3085 (+11)
8th – Alex Bowman: 3075 (+1)
9th – Joey Logano: 3074 (-1)

Under the assumption that each individual driver isn’t the NEW WINNER…

Kyle Busch: 3053 (-22)
Austin Dillon: 3053 (-22)
Clint Bowyer: 3036 (-39)
Aric Almirola: 3026 (-49)

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Which drivers will join Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin and in the round of 12? Tune in to NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET this afternoon for the live broadcast of the 2020 Bank of America Roval 400 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.