The NASCAR Cup Series ended the Round of 12 of the playoffs on Sunday afternoon with a race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. The drivers had to navigate the 2.32-mile track that has 17 turns scattered throughout. With a lot of problems and wrecks happening, one playoff driver was able to overcome his adversity and get the win to advance himself onto the next round. Kyle Larson continued his incredible NASCAR season by scoring his seventh victory in a wild Bank of America ROVAL 400.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Kyle Larson Wins at the Charlotte ROVAL
Bank of America ROVAL 400 Stage 1
We do have to point out the awesome tribute NASCAR did before the race. Mason Bradley wrote a letter to Kurt Busch asking if he could make his window net pink for breast cancer awareness. Kurt took it seriously and NASCAR allowed every team to run with a pink window net during Sunday’s race that will be autographed and auctioned off.
After the pre-race festivities, Denny Hamlin led the field to the green flag and the NASCAR Playoffs elimination race was off. Martin Truex Jr. had some problems right off the start as he fell back and lost several spots. Hamlin and some other drivers pitted before the competition caution. After the yellow, Brad Keselowski spun and lost a lot of ground. Ryan Newman also spun and hit the wall to bring out the first caution for cause of the day.
Saturday’s Xfinity Series race winner, A.J. Allmendinger, capitalized on the ensuing restart to take the lead away from Ryan Blaney. Ryan Preece spun, but since this is a road course no caution was called. Chase Elliott passed Allmendinger at the end of the stage to pick up right where he left off last season at the Charlotte ROVAL and win Stage 1.
Bank of America ROVAL 400 Stage 2
A.J. Allmendinger stayed out after the stage to take the lead back and lead the field into Stage 2. That did not last long as both Kyle Busch and William Byron quickly got by. Chase Briscoe was spun by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and that brought out another caution. Kyle Larson needed to come in to fix an alternator issue under the hood. His team did an incredible job of making the repairs and getting the No. 5 car back out on track. Cole Custer tapped the wall and went for a spin late in the stage, but no caution was thrown. Kyle Busch went on to take the green and white checkered flag as the Stage 2 winner.
Bank of America ROVAL 400 Final Stage
William Byron pitted before the end of Stage 2 and thus inherited the lead to begin the final stage. Back in the pack, Chase Elliott got received a shove from Kevin Harvick that sent him into the wall. Elliott tried to retaliate, but missed Harvick and hit Cole Custer instead, which brought out a caution. Harvick stayed silent on the radio. Elliott came on the radio saying he would wreck the No. 4 if he was able to get back to him later in the race.
A.J. Allmendinger would pull his Kaulig Racing No. 16 car behind the garage shortly after the restart effectively removing one of the contenders. Joey Logano and Harvick started the green flag stops with 34 to go in the race. Sitting in a must-win situation in terms of the NASCAR Playoffs standings, Byron successfully cycled back to the lead after pit stops were over.
Chase Elliott Bumper Cover Creates Controversey
Meanwhile, Elliott lost his bumper cover out on the track and caused a caution to be thrown for the debris. This brought a widely spaced-out field back together and bunched up for a restart. In this scenario, it was a major gain for the No. 9 car who was running at the tail end of the lead lap.
This whole instance was inconsistent with NASCAR Cup series rulings in the past. Typically, they will black flag a driver who is dragging his bumper around behind him for several laps and force him to pit to get it fixed.
Kyle Larson Capitalizes on Late Restart
Denny Hamlin stayed out during the caution and took over the lead for the restart. It wasn’t long before Corey LaJoie hit the wall and dropped debris to bring out another yellow. The next caution was brought out when Harvick locked up the brakes in Turn 1 and slammed into the wall, ending his race and championship hopes.
Kyle Larson passed Hamlin on the ensuing restart and went on to win the race. Harvick, Byron, Christopher Bell, and Alex Bowman were the four drivers eliminated from the playoffs after the race.
Final Bank of America ROVAL 400 Thoughts
The race definitely was action-packed throughout its entirety. I am just tired of NASCAR’s inconsistencies. They have black-flagged drivers for less damaged panels than what Chase Elliott was dragging behind him several times in the past. They want to manufacture drama any way that they can which is ultimately going to push people out of the sport. Kevin Harvick’s payback on Elliott from the Bristol Night Race was looked at as divisive which I can see, but he owed him one. In the end, it ruined his championship chances as he is done. William Byron pushed as much as he could knowing that he needed to win. In the end, he also went too hard and cost himself.