NASCAR News & Notes — Charlotte

NASCAR News & Notes — Charlotte

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Round Of 12 Starts At Charlotte

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs opens its Round of 12 with Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The following drivers advanced following last weekend’s cutoff race at Dover: Martin Truex Jr. (enters Sunday’s race 51 points ahead of Ryan Blaney on the cutoff line), Kyle Busch (+33), Kyle Larson (+26), Brad Keselowski (+12), Jimmie Johnson (+9), Kevin Harvick (+7), Denny Hamlin (+5), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2), Ryan Blaney (two points behind Stenhouse on the cutoff line), Chase Elliott (-4), Matt Kenseth (-5) and Jamie McMurray (-7).

Here’s the leaderboard as it stands entering the Round of 12:

Rank

Driver

Points

Race Wins

Playoff Points

Pts from Cutoff

1

Martin Truex Jr.

3059

59

2

Kyle Busch

3041

41

3

Kyle Larson

3034

34

4

Brad Keselowski

3020

20

5

Jimmie Johnson

3017

17

6

Kevin Harvick

3015

15

7

Denny Hamlin

3013

13

8

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

3010

10

9

Ryan Blaney

3008

8

-2

10

Chase Elliott

3006

6

-4

11

Matt Kenseth

3005

5

-5

12

Jamie McMurray

3003

3

-7

 

Jimmie Johnson is the defending race winner. The Playoffs drivers who have visited Victory Lane at Charlotte in the past are: Johnson (eight wins, track record), Harvick (three), Kenseth (two), McMurray (two), Keselowski (one), Truex (one).

Busch Goes For Third Consecutive Win And A Victory At All Active Tracks

If Kyle Busch wins Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, not only will he earn his third consecutive victory and an automatic berth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8, but he’ll also become the first driver to boast a checkered flag at every active Cup track.

Despite never winning a points race at Charlotte, Busch has quality Loop Data stats at the 1.5-mile track. His average running position (9.7) and driver rating (105.6) ranks second best among active drivers at Charlotte. In 27 Queen City starts, Busch owns 11 top fives, 16 top 10s and a 15.0 average finish. He placed runner-up in this year’s Coca-Cola 600.

The last driver to record three consecutive victories was Joey Logano in 2015 when he won three straight playoff races in a sweep of the Round of 12. Busch also won three races in a row in 2015.

King Of Queen City: Johnson Attempts To Add To Record 8 Charlotte Wins

Jimmie Johnson will attempt to add to his record of eight Charlotte wins in Sunday’s Bank of America 500. The No. 48 Chevrolet driver has taken the checkered flag in the Queen City fall race four times, including last season.

In 32 career starts at Charlotte, Johnson also claims 15 top fives, 19 top 10s and a 12.7 average finish. He owns the top Charlotte driver rating (110.4) and average running position (8.0) of all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

Johnson’s third-place finish at Dover last weekend marked his first top-five showing since his win at Dover in June.

Larson, Blaney, McMurray, Stenhouse Advance To Round Of 12 For First Time

The Round of 16 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs was no problem for postseason first-timers Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Both drivers navigated their way into the Round of 12.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray made it to the Round of 12 for their first time in their second and third Playoffs, respectively.

The Round of 12 will likely be much tougher. Larson sits 26 points above Blaney on the cutoff line, but Stenhouse only has a two-point edge over Blaney for the final transfer spot entering the Round of 12. McMurray starts the Round of 12 facing a seven-point deficit for the final transfer berth.

In eight career starts at Charlotte, Larson has one top five, two top 10s and a 19.8 average finish.

Blaney has never finished better than 14th at Charlotte in his five career races there, while Stenhouse owns a high finish of 13th in 11 Queen City appearances.

McMurray has had the most success at the 1.5-mile track. In 30 career starts, he claims two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s and a 16.2 average finish. He also won the non-points-paying All-Star Race at Charlotte in 2014.

Another Runner-Up For Elliott

Chase Elliott relinquished the lead to Kyle Busch just before the final go-around of last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover, finishing second despite leading a race-high 138 laps.

The finish marked the fifth runner-up of Elliott’s career. He continues to hunt down his first win.

Still, Elliott produced a strong Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16 with two runner-ups (one encumbered at Chicagoland) and an 11th-place finish. He advances to the Round of 12 opener sitting 10th on the Playoff leaderboard – a mere four points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the final transfer spot.

Plenty of notable drivers recorded more runner-ups than Elliott before their first win, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Bill Elliott (Chase’s father, eight runner-ups), Glenn Wood (six) and Mark Martin (six). NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip logged four second-place showings before his first victory.

In four career starts at Charlotte, Elliott has a high finish of eighth. He crashed out of his last two races at the 1.5-mile track after starting both third. He led 103 laps in last year’s Bank of America 500.

A Spoiler At Charlotte?

As has been mentioned many times before, a driver doesn’t need to be a Playoffs contender to win a race. Many drivers who are not championship-eligible have won in the past at Charlotte. The group includes: Kasey Kahne (4), Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon.

Related posts

Leave a Reply