Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the final race of the opening round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. There’s realistically eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff drivers that feel good about their chances to make the Round of 12. Three of them know that they have a spot with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick having clinched positions in the second round.
Three move drivers have to finish 29th or better.
Brad Keselowski is +55 and needs to just be 34th or better in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Denny Hamlin is +54 and has to be 33rd or better. Joey Logano is +50 and just needs to finish 29th or better.
Keselowski, has just three finishes further back than 34th all year. The first a 36th place finish at Texas this past spring and the second a 39th place finish at Daytona in July. The final one was in the Brickyard 400 when he crashed early on and came home 38th. He has been strong this weekend too. The Team Penske driver was 14th, 11th and third in practice this weekend to go along with being 11th in qualifying. While he has finished 18t and ninth respectively on road courses in 2019, he does head into Sunday’s race with four top five finishes in his last five starts on the season.
Hamlin, has one finish outside of 33rd. That came at Talladega back in late April. He’ll start in the back after crashing in practice on Friday, but does have eight top six finishes in his last 10 starts on the season and two top fives in as many tries on road courses this year.
Logano, has yet to finish worse than 25th which that came at Daytona in July too. He was 23rd in both road course races this year but was also 15th, third and 12th respectively in practice thus far this weekend and will roll off third on Sunday.
Translation, all three are good to go.
Chase Elliott just needs to finish 16th or better. He’s finish 16th or better in six of his last seven starts on the season. He was sixth, eighth and first respectively in practice. He’s good in my opinion too.
I even think Kyle Larson (+25) is good. He was second, seventh and eighth respectively in practice, qualified seventh and also boasts two top 10 finishes in two starts on road courses this year.
That leaves Ryan Newman in ninth through Erik Jones in 16th vying for the final four spots.
Three of the top five starters for Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) are bubble drivers. Also, four of the top five of the final finishing order last year were current playoff bubble drivers as well.
William Byron is 12th in the standings and his teammate Alex Bowman is 13th. They’ll qualified on front row. Clint Bowyer is 14th and will start fifth.
Kurt Busch and Erik Jones are also on the outside looking in but will start 23rd and 15th respectively. Aric Almirola is 11th in the standings but only rolls off 16th. Newman, qualified 24th.
Blaney and Larson will start ninth and seventh respectively, so they have good chances.
Plus, some of the bubble drivers need to use these starting spots to capitalize.
Blaney, has one top five in his last six starts on the year. He did win this race last year nd has two top five finishes in as many tries on road courses this season. Furthermore, Blaney was 10th, first and sixth respectively in practice.
Byron, has three career top five finishes and is squarely on the playoff bubble. But, he was third, sixth and seventh respectively in practice this weekend. Bowman, has two top 10 finishes over his last 13 starts and just one top five in his last 16 races. He crashed in final practice and was only 17th, 22nd and 10th respectively in practice this weekend.
Byron, is only one point behind Almirola for 11th while Bowman is three back. Almirola, hasn’t had a top five finish since March (Phoenix) and a top 10 since Daytona in July. He only starts in Row 8 and was just 19th, 26th and 19th respectively in practice.
Bowyer, finished third in this race last year and starts fifth. He has just one top five finish in his last 14 starts on the year. He was fourth in two of the three practice sessions this weekend.
Busch, finished fifth last year but only has two top five finishes over the last 20 races. Also, he was 18th, 19th and ninth respectively in practice himself.
Jones, has two top eight finishes in as many tries on road courses this season but has to win on Sunday. His organization has four wins over the last five races on the season, so it could happen too.
My drivers who move on?
Truex, Harvick, KyBusch, Keselowski, Hamlin, Logano, Elliott, Larson, Newman, Blaney, Byron and Bowyer.