Bank of America ROVAL 400 Preview

October 11, 2:30 PM EDT

Last week, NASCAR's Cup Series endured one of the most chaotic races of the season at Talladega, which produced a record-breaking 13 cautions and utter mayhem in the championship playoff race. Now some of NASCAR's most popular names like Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola are in jeopardy of being eliminated from the championship picture. On Sunday, several drivers will have a final shot to keep their championship hopes alive with the running of the Bank of America ROVAL 400 in the last race in the Round of 12.

After a difficult handicapping weekend at an unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway, this Sunday's return to the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway should provide a much better handicapping opportunity. The ROVAL course is still a relatively new concept and layout. Charlotte Motor Speedway introduced the layout in the 2018 Bank of America 400, and this will be the 3rd race that combines both Charlotte's 1.5-mile oval surface along with the infield course that will yield road course style racing. Despite limited experience, we saw several of the top road course talents shine in this race a year ago, and we should have similar expectations again this weekend.

Last year, Chase Elliott wrecked while leading and still drove back through the field to capture the victory. While Elliott's path to victory was impressive, the overall win was not surprising. Elliott and Martin Truex have easily been the best two road course drivers in the Cup Series over the past several years. Elliott scored his 1st career victory in the Cup Series at Watkins Glen in 2018 and has been victorious in four of the last nine races on road course layouts. Meanwhile, Martin Truex has been equally impressive with three wins during the last nine races, which includes a pair of runner-up finishes. I understand that track history does not always hold a lot of weight, especially at aerodynamic performance demanding tracks. However, the road courses are mostly reliant upon the driver, and that is why I am confident that both Elliott and Truex will remain top betting targets going into this weekend's event.

Obviously Elliott and Truex are not the most appealing betting options this week because they are heavily favored. However, there are a couple of drivers that require betting attention this week at much better odds. Kevin Harvick was really strong at the ROVAL in 2019 and based on his performance this season, it would not be surprising to see him in contention. Meanwhile, a couple of drivers that have climbed up my dark horse radar include Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.

Both Cup Series veterans have proven to be successful at the ROVAL. Johnson nearly won the inaugural race in 2018 but tangled with Truex in a fight for the lead on the final lap. Johnson is an excellent road course driver but rarely gets recognized for that particular skill set. Meanwhile, Bowyer has provided the best average finishing position (7.22) among active drivers since 2017 at road course layouts. Bowyer has not been victorious yet but has posted five different top 5 finishes. After a strong run at the ROVAL in 2019, Bowyer has the true dark horse potential that we like to see in betting odds. As a result, I would consider both Johnson and Bowyer as live underdogs going into Sunday's race. So keep your eyes on their odds throughout the week.

Free Picks

Odds courtesy of MyBookie:

  • Martin Truex Jr +700
  • Jimmie Johnson +2000

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