CONCORD, N.C. – The NASCAR Cup Series playoff field faces another elimination race this Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and Hendrick Motorsports is looking find a way to transfer all four teams to the next round.
Heading into Sunday’s race, Kyle Larson is second in the playoff point standings with 3,097 points. Chase Elliott is seventh and sits nine markers above the bubble with 3,084 playoff points. Teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman are both below the cutline in 11th and 12th, respectively. Byron is down by 44 markers and Bowman is 52 points below the bubble.
Below is a breakdown of what each Hendrick Motorsports driver will need to do for Sunday’s race at the ROVAL.
Larson, the leader of the Hendrick Motorsports field, sits comfortably inside the bubble 22 above the cutline. Like with any playoff driver, a win at the ROVAL would automatically push him into the next round.
If Larson does not win Sunday’s event, the 29-year-old driver can clinch a spot if he garners 34 playoff points as long as one of the four drivers outside of the current cutline does not win. If one of the drivers below the playoff bubble wins, Larson will need 41 playoff points to earn his spot in the next round.
Larson’s two road course wins at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International during the regular season will serve as blueprints as he prepares to take on the ROVAL.
Elliott will look to continue his dominance at the ROVAL as the reigning track winner. Only nine markers above the cutline, Elliott will need either a win or 47 playoff points to automatically claim his spot in the next round. If a driver outside of the Round of 8 bubble wins Sunday’s event, Elliott will need to secure 53 points to keep his championship hopes alive.
The driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet has two wins in his three starts at the Charlotte road course, taking home the checkered flag in September 2019 and in October 2020. His streak of front-running finishes will help him prepare for the elimination race at the 2.28-mile venue.
Byron is currently ranked 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff points standings with 3,040 points, 44 markers from moving into the top eight. Byron’s deficit will prove to be tricky to overcome – he will need the top drivers in the standings to have a poor performance while he has a nearly perfect day or he will need to win outright.
Byron, who has yet to win at his hometown track, will lean on his five top-10 finishes at road courses and two sixth-place finishes at the ROVAL to help guide him through the 17 turns the venue has to offer.
Bowman rounds out the Hendrick Motorsports field in the playoff points standings and is currently scored 12th with 3,032 playoff points. His 52-point gap to the cutline will be difficult to overcome; like Byron, he will either need an outright win or some Cup drivers in the top eight to have a bad performance.
Bowman has two top-five finishes and seven top-10s on road courses, including his second-place finish at the ROVAL in September 2019. In three trips to the ROVAL, Bowman’s worst finish is eighth, which gives him excellent notes heading into the road-course event.
Tune in to Sunday’s playoff race at the Charlotte ROVAL at 2 p.m. ET on NBC to see if the Hendrick Motorsports teams can transfer to the Round of 8.