Where Cup playoff drivers stand heading to Charlotte Roval
Let’s go Roval-ing! It’s a course that drivers consider a wildcard in these playoffs and one that delivered on drama last year.
The Roval closes the first round of the playoffs. Four drivers will be eliminated after Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
Here is where the 16 playoff drivers stand:
Martin Truex Jr. opened the playoffs with back-to-back wins, collecting 12 of 14 playoff points available. While Truex was already set for the second round via his Las Vegas win, two others joined him in advancing to the next round via points after Richmond: Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano can breathe easy heading into the Roval based on their points. Keselowski is 55 points ahead of Alex Bowman, the first driver outside a transfer spot. Hamlin is 54 points ahead of Bowman. Logano is 50 points ahead of Bowman.
Chase Elliott is 37 points ahead of Bowman and also is in a good position to advance.
WORK TO DO
Kyle Larson is in a transfer spot but last year’s chaotic Roval showed that anything can happen, so one has to be on guard and can’t afford a bad race. Larson is 25 points ahead of Bowman.
PRESSURE IS ON
Ryan Newman, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, William Byron, Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer.
Newman (14 points ahead of Bowman), Blaney (eight points), Almirola (three points) and Byron (two points) hold the final transfer spots but have little room for error.
Bowman and Bowyer could climb into a transfer spot with a good race and a little help. Bowyer is four points behind Byron, who holds the final transfer spot after he tied his season-worst finish of 24th-place last weekend at Richmond.
WOE IS ME
Kurt Busch. His 18th-place finish at Richmond leaves him 14 points behind Byron for that final transfer spot. Busch will need some help to stay alive in the playoffs.
Erik Jones thought he was in good shape for a transfer spot after his fourth-place finish Saturday night … until his car failed inspection and was disqualified. Instead of scoring 42 points, Jones was credited with one point for a last-place finish. He is 45 points behind Byron for the final invite to the second round. The deficit is so great that there’s no way Jones can advance via points unless a series of crazy things happen. So it comes down to one thing for Jones to advance. Just win. If not, Jones will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for a second year in a row.
2141 — Martin Truex Jr. (clinched spot in second round)
2120 — Kevin Harvick (clinched spot in second round)
2117 — Kyle Busch (clinched spot in second round)
2106 — Brad Keselowski
2105 — Denny Hamlin
2101 — Joey Logano
2088 — Chase Elliott
2076 — Kyle Larson
2065 — Ryan Newman
2059 — Ryan Blaney
2054 — Aric Almirola
2053 — William Byron
CUTOFF LINE TO THE SECOND ROUND
2051 — Alex Bowman
2049 — Clint Bowyer
2039 — Kurt Busch
2008 — Erik Jones