NASCAR Cup Series
Allmendinger Captures Emotion-Filled Victory at the Charlotte ROVAL
Oct 8, 2023
With the Round of 12 coming to an end at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Brad Keselowski, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch were all eliminated from the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 marked the final race of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs, with Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Bush all being eliminated after 109 laps around the 2.280-mile road course.
Keselowski entered the day in the eighth and final transfer position, but a rough outing in Sunday’s race dropped the driver of the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford three spots in the standings and on the wrong side of the cut line.
The driver-owner said he was proud of the team’s efforts throughout the season, they just needed to finish better in each of the three races in the Round of 12 in order to move on, something that just didn’t happen.
Keselowski kicked off the round with a seventh-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, but an ill-timed push in the tri-oval at Talladega Superspeedway resulted in a 32nd-place finish and put the No. 6 team on the bubble heading into the final race of the round in Charlotte.
Starting 19th, Keselowski had to serve multiple stop-and-go penalties for missing the chicane, was never really a factor at the front of the field, and did not score any stage points throughout the day. Finishing the day in 18th, the former series champion now shifts his focus to ending the year on a high note battling for the fifth position in the final season standings.
“It would have been nice to carry some bonus points in with a couple of wins and it would have been nice to have not caused a wreck that knocked myself out at Talladega, you look at Texas and there’s a couple spots and points here and there,” he said. “It’s more than one race.”
Much like Keselowski, Chastain’s day at the Charlotte ROVAL was not what he had hoped, despite a 10th-place finish. The driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet pointed to the incident at Talladega Superspeedway last week as to the reason he will not compete for the championship for a second consecutive year.
“Ultimately, I can just pinpoint it to a single moment going down the backstretch at Talladega. I get off the bottom to the middle so that I can get to the top, lead the outside. The 20 (Christopher Bell) pushes me, 47 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) runs out of gas, I hesitate. I should have just hit the brakes and followed the 8 (Kyle Busch),” Chastain said following Sunday’s race. “I tried to shoot the gap and take five points and ultimately I gave up 25 points or something. You never know.
“I look back at that moment, and my feet and I just hesitated,” he said. “Everything in my body told me to check up but there was a gap - and I never want to not go for a gap. There’s that famous Senna line about the gap and I believe that, I don’t want to ever stop doing that. Ultimately it’s hurting us right now, it’s painful, but we’ll keep going for gaps. I’m living my dream.”
For Wallace, Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 started off strong with scoring points in both stages but a late-race incident not of his making mired the No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota deep in the field with only a handful of laps left to climb back up.
Racing mid-pack, Wallace was hit from behind and spun into the backstretch chicane when Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric got together behind him. The contact sent Wallace spinning through the chicane and NASCAR issued a stop-and-go penalty for driving through the chicane, something Wallace was frustrated about following the race.
“Honestly, it’s such a BS rule, I lost so much track position. I didn’t come to a complete stop but I got blown through the chicane and thought I’d keep my momentum up and get back going, fall back in line and race it out from there, but I had to stop on the frontstretch,” he said. “We’re the only series that does it ass backwards, not surprised.
Despite missing out on advancing in the Playoffs, Wallace kept his head high about the team’s efforts and his performance Sunday at the ROVAL.
“I wasn’t able to get through traffic like the 45 (Tyler Reddick) was, so I need to work on that. Put ourselves in better spots to not get wrecked,” he said.
We weren’t supposed to be in the Playoffs, weren’t supposed to be in the Round of 16, knocked out in the Round of 12, we also weren’t supposed to be a factor in a road course race.”
Entering Sunday’s race in a must-win situation, Busch and the Richard Childress Racing team were a threat for the win for much of the afternoon, earning points in both Stage 1 and Stage 2. The driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet led a total of six laps and ended the day in third, missing out on the win and not advancing to the next round of the Playoffs.
Busch credited the team for bringing a fast car to Sunday’s race and took responsibility for not advancing into the Round of 8.
“The guys gave me a great piece today. The Lenovo Camaro was pretty fast, just lacked a little bit on the long run, just didn't quite have the feel of the tire that I was really looking for to be able to turn into the corners and to be able to drive out of the corners and keep pace with the front two there at the end,” Busch said.
“But overall this ride is on me anyways,” he said. “The first two weeks of this round was obviously not very good, and we didn't score any points. That's where it's at. That's where it lies. Texas, Talladega, just not being able to execute and do a good job when points were on the line."
Although frustrated by missing out on advancing, Busch said he was pleased with the team's efforts in his first season with RCR, and he expects to contend for the win next weekend in his hometown of Las Vegas.
While each of the four drivers are eliminated from Playoff contention, the battle continues on over the next four weeks to finish as high in the overall season standings as possible.
Image courtesy Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images