American Racing

NASCAR Playoffs: Footnotes to the Round of 12

The field is set for the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

The Charlotte Roval played host to the final race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12. Kyle Larson punched his ticket into the round of 8 despite all sorts of electrical troubles for both him, and his Hendrick teammates. Others had less luck and missed not just on the win but on the next round as well. Take a look at the footnotes of the last three weeks.

Getting Good at the Road Course

The seven road courses in the 2021 schedule made a lot of headlines and raised plenty of eyebrows. It was a daring move in an attempt to revitalize the series, one that could turn out great or, into a hot mess. Fortunately, the former happened and drivers have gotten the hang of it when it comes to road courses. The Bank of America Roval 400 is the ultimate proof of that.

Credit: USA Today

The inaugural version of the race in 2018 quickly turned demolition derby as most of the field had never ventured outside Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen. Drivers struggled with grip, braking, and hitting the curbs. Things are much smoother these days as drivers embraced the road courses. Chase Elliott raced at the 24 Hours of Daytona, that probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this season.

The Wreck

Let’s stay with Elliott for a second. The number 9 driver fell victim to Kevin Harvick’s payback as the veteran driver sent him into the wall on the last turn of the road course. Crew Chief Alan Gustafson didn’t take things calmly, this was evident by his radio message shortly after the wreck “If you wreck him, that locks us in”. There was no need for that as Harvick later lost control of his car and took himself out of the race after a hard hit on the oval wall.

A precedent has been set but, will Chase try to strike back? The answer to that question is “It depends”. He could, he could even do it next week if he wanted to. Nonetheless, he’s in the Playoffs, Harvick, after this Sunday is not. Wasting a shot at making it into the final round of the Playoffs just to take him out on the track is frankly senseless. If he’s out of the title picture come Phoenix, then he might try his luck. Then and only then.

Who’s In?

The following drivers are into the Round of 8:

  • #5 Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
  • #11 Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • #19 Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • #12 Ryan Blaney, Team Penske
  • #18 Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • #9 Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsport
  • #22 Joey Logano, Team Penske
  • #2 Brad Keselowski, Team Penske

Who’s Out?

The following drivers are out of the Playoffs:

  • #4 Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
  • #20 Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • #48 Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports
  • #24 William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports

What’s Next for NASCAR?

The Round of 8 is set to kick off this weekend at the lone star state. The first of the last three races before the Season Finale is this Sunday at Texas Motorspeedway

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Feature Image Credit: USA Today

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