This weekend, the Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the race on the roval. Why does the series race on the roval, and who has won on it?
Charlotte roval prompts NASCAR rethink
Traditionally, Cup visited Charlotte Motor Speedway twice per season.
The spring race is the Coca-Cola 600, while the fall race took a spot in the Playoffs.
However, as viewing figures steadily declined towards the end of the 2010s, NASCAR needed to take drastic action.
For 2018, it was announced that the second race at Charlotte, in the fall, would be run on the roval.
It was the first step in NASCAR drastically changing its schedule – most drastically seen this year.
Series chiefs realised that the series’ addiction to 1.5-mile intermediate ovals needed to be ended.
Places such as Chicagoland and Kentucky Speedway were given the boot, as NASCAR brought in new venues.
The Charlotte roval was the first of these.
Although the pandemic suspended this progress in 2020, for ’21, NASCAR drastically re-did the schedule.
In came the dirt race at Bristol as well as a record seven road courses.
They were Daytona, Circuit of the Americas, Indianapolis, Road America, Watkins Glen, Sonoma and the Charlotte roval.
This weekend’s race is the final road course event of the 2021 season.
Who has won at the Charlotte roval?
The three races at the NASCAR Charlotte roval have been won by two drivers.
In the inaugural race, Penske’s Ryan Blaney took the win after a final corner incident.
Coming onto the final lap, Martin Truex Jr and Jimmie Johnson were racing for the win.
Entering the final chicane, Johnson heavily locked up his left-side front tyre, slivering into Truex.
Truex ended up in the wall, as Blaney swept through for a first win for Penske, and second of his career.
In 2019, series road course specialist Chase Elliott made an embarrassing error at the start.
The #9 Hendrick driver didn’t stop in time for the left-hander at Turn 1, nudging the barrier in his Camaro.
He evantually got going, and came back to win, celebrating by burning out at the spot he’d gone off earlier in the race.
Elliott defended his race win in 2020.
When is this weekend’s race?
The 2021 race at the Charlotte roval will take place on Sunday, 10th October.
It will be the final race in the Round of 12 of the Playoffs.
Post-race, the bottom four Playoff drivers will be eliminated as the other eight go onto the semi-finals.
The green flag will drop at 2:30pm ET on Sunday, with stage lengths of 25-25-59 for 109 laps total.
Denny Hamlin will start on the pole, joined on the front row by Brad Keselowski.
The Playoff drivers fill out the top 12 slots on the grid, with Kurt Busch the highest non-Playoff driver in 13th.
As it stands, only Hamlin is locked into the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs ahead of the Charlotte roval.
Bubba Wallace won at Talladega, but as he is not a Playoff driver, does not advance to the semi-finals.
Kyle Larson is +22 following a difficult Talladega.
Winning is the only sure way to advance, with Christopher Bell, William Byron and Alex Bowman in must-win mode regardless.