And Then There Were 12

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And Then There Were 12

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At the start of the Bank of America ROVAL 400, 16 drivers that were in the playoffs. At the end of the day, only 12 drivers remain for a shot at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. The Roval provided some of the best racing they have had all season long with its close racing, amazing battles, and rivalries that started. A lot of the playoff drivers also struggled throughout the day with either mechanical issues or from being involved in a wreck. 

It looked like a typical Roval start to a race, but straight away on lap one, Alex Bowman lost control of his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet braking into the backstretch chicane. It played a big story during the race since after the spin Bowman was on the outside looking in to make it into the next round of the playoffs. On lap 20, Ryan Preece also lost control of his No. 47 Chevrolet in the backstretch chicane that brought out the first caution of the race. This would set up a lot of cautions throughout the race. Erick Jones was the first driver to be eliminated from the playoffs because of a multi-car wreck in turn one after the restart. The other 15 playoff drivers battled all race long to get themselves locked into the next round.

What made this race really interesting was how much the playoff standings changed throughout the race. The battle to be in the top 12 was so crazy that the standings just changed almost every lap. Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, and Ryan Newman would be the three drivers that would really fight for that 12th and final playoff spot. Bowman is the one that prevailed and secured himself in the next round of the playoffs because Newman cut the backstretch chicane and got a penalty. That ended Newman’s chances of moving on and Bowman would advance. Seven drivers locked themselves into the next round of the playoffs before the race even ended. Kyle Busch, Martin Trux Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Brad Keselowski locked themselves into the next round of the playoffs at the end of the stage two.

The biggest story of the race was Chase Elliott. In my opinion, he drove his best race to come back and win after wrecking. Going into turn one at the beginning of the final stage, Chase Elliott locked up his tires and he went straight into the tire barrier. He instantly got out of the wall and continued on, but he went to pit road for repairs. That dropped him all the way back to the back of the field and he would have to fight his way to the front if he wanted to win. With a caution-filled final stage, Elliott somehow fought his way to the front and took the lead with about four laps to go. He instantly pulled away from the rest of the field and his teammate, Alex Bowman, got up to second.

Chase Elliott took home his third win of the season, first at the Charlotte Roval, and Bowman finishes second and locked himself into the next round of the playoffs. Hendrick Motorsports also got their first one-two finish at the Roval. With all of the drama of the final race of the first round of the playoffs, 12 drivers remain at a shot at the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Erick Jones, Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, and Kurt Busch are the four drivers that got eliminated from the playoffs and won’t be able to fight for the championship. The other 12 drivers still have a shot but have to face some of the toughest tracks on the schedule with Dover, Talladega, and Kansas. Stay tuned and watch the first race of the second round of the playoffs is at Dover International Speedway this Sunday at 2:30 P.M. EST on NBCSN.

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