After this upcoming Sunday's race from the Charlotte Roval, the NASCAR playoffs will be down to eight drivers. In dramatic fashion last week at Talladega, Ryan Blaney of Team Penske scored the victory, securing a spot in the round of 8. It was the second win of 2023 for Blaney who has shown a mixed bag of results since his last win on the Charlotte oval back in May. Blaney has 14 Top 10 finishes on the season but also has 12 finishes of 20th or worse on the season. Look for a conservative of collecting points for Blaney, much needed points for the next round.
Last year, Christopher Bell took the checkered flag on the Charlotte Roval, a race that is more than likely going away in 2024. The 17 turn, 2.2 mile roval course inside the Charlotte Motor Speedway is the second of two wild card races in the playoffs, last weeks Talladega race was the first. 109 laps is scheduled for Sunday, but last year's race went to overtime.
William Byron with his win at Texas and Ryan Blaney winning last week at Talladega have locked themselves into the round of 8. 6 spots are up for grabs with Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell comfortably above the cut line. 5th to 12th gets interesting. Chris Buescher sits 5th, 19 points above the cut line with Kyle Larson (+17) and Martin Truex Jr. (+15) rounding out the top 7. On the bubble of the playoff race sits Brad Kesolowski. Tyler Reddick, two points back of the cut line, is 9th with Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain and Kyle Busch all needing wins to advance.
With two drivers locked in, 10 drivers are fighting for 6 positions. Barring DNF's, Hamlin, Bell, Larson, Buescher and Truex Jr. should advance. Bell won this race a year ago, Buescher hasn't finished lower than 11th on a road or street course this season and boasts 6th and 3rd place finishes at the Roval. Truex Jr has 24 career road and street course top 10s.
My pick to advance is Tyler Reddick. 3 of Reddicks 5 career wins came on road courses. He has two top 10s in his three Charlotte Roval races. He was 6th back at Watkins Glen and 4th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, give me Reddick to make up those two points and knock Brad Kesolowsi out of the playoffs.
Two drivers could play spoiler on Sunday and win that have been eliminated from the playoffs. The first is Michael McDowell. McDowell locked himself into the 2023 playoffs with a dominating win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in August. McDowell is always a threat to be up front on road courses and seems to find his way past the chaos to secure Top 10 finishes.
A.J. Allmindenger has had a disappointing season in 2023. His last chance at a victory this season will come on Sunday. One of the best on road courses, "The Dinger" has 6 Top 10 finishes on road courses in the last two seasons. Look for the Kaulig Racing Chevy to be in contention on Sunday.
As you think about your picks for our contest, I am taking Tyler Reddick to win the race in overtime. Chris Buescher will score a top 5 finish while Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain will be eliminated from championship contention. Be sure to get your picks in by Sunday at 2pm EST.