NASCAR: 5 drivers most likely to win at the Charlotte Roval

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, NASCAR playoffs - Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, NASCAR playoffs - Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Which NASCAR Cup Series drivers have the best chance to win Sunday’s round of 12 finale at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval?

The major “wild card” race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs — even more so than the annual fall race at Talladega Superspeedway which was contested this past Sunday afternoon — is scheduled to take place this coming Sunday afternoon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval to bring the round of 12 to an end.

Four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention following this 109-lap Bank of America Roval 400 around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile (3.669-kilometer) road course in Concord, North Carolina, while six others will lock up their spots in the round of 8 to join Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.

Byron won the round of 12 opener at Texas Motor Speedway while Blaney responded in what has become signature Blaney style: a narrow win at Talladega.

Will one of these two drivers win again, or will a third different playoff driver win the round of 12 finale? Could a non-playoff driver win for the first time this postseason? Blaney is a former Charlotte Roval winner, having taken a surprise victory in the final turn following a collision between the two leaders in 2018.

In the five races that have been contested at the track since it was added to the schedule in 2018, it has never been won by a non-championship eligible driver.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is currently running a promotion which awards NASCAR fans with an instant $200 bonus just for betting $5, lists Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott as the +600 favorite to win Sunday’s race. Elliott is not a playoff driver this year.

Here are the top five, according to the odds.

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Despite the fact that he is not a playoff driver, Elliott being listed as the favorite is not a surprise, given the fact that he leads all active drivers with seven road course wins, good for third place on the all-time list.

He is also a two-time Charlotte Roval winner, and both wins came in come-from-behind fashion when he appeared to be down and out. However, he is still seeking his first road course win in over two years.

On the other hand, teammate William Byron was dominant in the most recent road course race at Watkins Glen International. But can we expect the same thing two races in a row from a driver who had never previously won a road course race?

It’s certainly possible, given the fact that Byron is already locked into the round of 8 and should be much more relaxed than the playoff drivers still fighting for the remaining spots. But part of that domination undoubtedly had to do with the fact that there were no stage breaks, and stage breaks have returned for this weekend, introducing a new element of strategy to the equation.

23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick has emerged as one of the sport’s top road course drivers, having secured three wins in such races since last July, including one this season at Circuit of the Americas, and he has a best finish of second place at the Charlotte Roval.

Like Elliott, Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell is also no longer in championship contention. Like Byron, he also dominated a recent (stage break-less) road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he was in position to do so again at Watkins Glen had that race not presented him with a classic case of literally anything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Then there is Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson, another former Charlotte Roval winner — and also a former Charlotte Roval playoff knockout.

Larson’s road course success, which includes four wins since 2021, speaks for itself. But he tends to have his worst results at the worst time come the postseason. Aside from his 2021 title run, he has just one career round of 8 appearance, which is actually quite bizarre when you think about it.

As for somewhat of a dark horse pick, look no further than reigning winner Christopher Bell. Sure, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver wasn’t even slated for a top five finish without a late caution setting up his round of 12 walk-off win last year, but he has historically been a solid road course driver in his own right, having recorded a win in both 2021 and 2022.

At +1800, which places him ninth on the list, he could be worth a flier. He just recorded a third place finish at Watkins Glen, and his first two seasons behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota both produced multiple top three finishes. Number two of 2023 could very well come on Sunday in the form of a win.

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NBC is set to broadcast the Bank of America Roval 400 live from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 8. If you have not yet had the chance to start a free trial of FuboTV, do so today!