CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday afternoon, the NASCAR Cup Series playoff field will be trimmed from 16 to 12.
And the elimination race just so happens to come at the newest venue in NASCAR – Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course.
The Bank of America ROVAL 400 certainly brings plenty of unknowns, and only three drivers have officially clinched their spots in the Round of 12 – Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
That leaves virtually the entire field on edge.
All three Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the playoffs can clinch their spots in the next round on Sunday.
Chase Elliott is currently ninth in the standings, holding a 10-point cushion above the 13th-place competitor, which would be the first one eliminated.
If there is a new winner on Sunday, Elliott would clinch with 48 points. If there is a repeat winner, or a win by Truex, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon or Alex Bowman, Elliott would clinch by scoring 45 points. If Ryan Blaney wins the race, Elliott would clinch with 46 points.
Bowman is currently 11th in the playoff standings with a five-point buffer ahead of the cutline.
He faces a similar scenario to secure his spot in the next round. If there is a new winner, he would automatically advance by scoring 53 points. If there is a repeat winner, or a win by Truex, Harvick, Logano, Almirola, Larson, Busch, Elliott or Dillon, he would clinch with 50 points. If Blaney wins, Bowman would clinch by scoring 51 points.
Jimmie Johnson is currently below the cutline, six points behind the 12th-place driver. If there is a new winner, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could clinch on points with help.
Of course, if Elliott, Bowman or Johnson win the race, it would earn them the clearest path directly into the next round.
In all, it sets up what could be a thrilling Round of 16 finale this Sunday on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“It’s going to be exciting for the fans and could switch up the playoff picture, for sure,” Johnson said.
The Bank of America ROVAL 400 is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.