The NASCAR Cup Series runs its final road course of the 2022 season this Sunday with the Bank of America ROVAL 400. It’s also the last of three races inside the playoffs' Round of 12, as the field of potential championship contenders will be whittled from 12 to eight once the checkered flag falls.
This 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course combines parts of the regular oval track utilized here along with several portions of the infield. At just 109 laps and 248.5 miles, it’s one of the shortest races on the circuit but the four events held here thus far have been marked by a number of caution flags. The ROVAL is known for chaotic restarts and tight passing zones that often lead to contact, both at the end of the backstretch and during the final series of turns heading into the start/finish line.
It’s the first ROVAL race run here with the sport’s Next Gen chassis as a race within a race will unfold. Heading into Sunday, 10 drivers are battling for seven spots available to advance into the next round of the playoffs. Chase Elliott, by virtue of his victory last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, has already qualified while his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman will fail to do so, sidelined for the past two weeks with a concussion.
One of the remaining playoff contenders, Joey Logano, earned the pole for this event, part of a Team Penske trio of drivers inside the top 6. While his speed of 103.424 MPH trailed the track record, Logano beat second-place William Byron by nearly a tenth of a second.
Thirty-nine teams showed up to attempt this race, one short of a full field. All 36 cars guaranteed a spot are here along with three “open” part-time programs: the No. 26 run by Team Hezeberg (Daniel Kyvat), the No. 27 run by Team Hezeberg (Loris Hezemans), and the No. 50 run by Floyd Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing (Conor Daly).
Three drivers failed to post a qualifying time: Aric Almirola, Josh Williams and Conor Daly. Daly crashed his No. 50 in practice while Ross Chastain wrecked his No. 1 car during the second round of qualifying; he still posted the 10th-fastest time after advancing.
1. Joey Logano (P)
2. William Byron (P)
3. Daniel Suarez (P)
4. Tyler Reddick
5. Austin Cindric (R) (P)
6. Ryan Blaney (P)
7. AJ Allmendinger (i)
8. Christopher Bell (P)
9. Chase Elliott (P)
10. Ross Chastain (P)
11. Michael McDowell
12. Cole Custer
13. Justin Haley
14. Bubba Wallace (P)
15. Austin Dillon
16. Ty Gibbs (i)
17. Chase Briscoe (P)
18. Kyle Larson (P)
19. Martin Truex Jr.
20. Kyle Busch
21. Chris Buescher
22. Kevin Harvick
23. Harrison Burton (R)
24. Denny Hamlin (P)
25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
26. Erik Jones
27. Joey Hand
28. Ty Dillon
29. Noah Gragson (i)
30. Corey LaJoie
31. Brad Keselowski
32. Todd Gilliland (R)
33. Daniil Kyvat (i)
34. Mike Rockenfeller
35. JJ Yeley (i)
36. Loris Hezemans (i)
37. Aric Almirola
38. Josh Williams (i)
39. Conor Daly
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
(P) – Playoff driver
- Joey Logano (first) earned his third pole of the season and first on a road course since Sonoma Raceway way back in 2011. Logano, the fastest Ford driver this weekend, is seeking his first Cup road course victory since Watkins Glen back in the summer 2015.
- William Byron (second) is the fastest Chevrolet in the field. Byron is back on the right side of the playoff cut line after a decision this week by a NASCAR appeals panel to reinstate the 25 points he lost by spinning Denny Hamlin intentionally at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Austin Cindric (fifth) was the fastest-qualifying rookie.
- AJ Allmendinger (seventh) replaces Daniel Hemric behind the wheel of the Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Allmendinger is running a limited schedule in preparation for a full-time return to Cup in 2023.
- Christopher Bell (eighth) was the fastest-qualifying Toyota. Bell will almost certainly need to win at Charlotte in order to advance into the Round of 8.
- Ty Gibbs (16th) continues to sub for Kurt Busch, injured in July during a qualifying attempt at Pocono Raceway. He’ll run the No. 23 for 23XI Racing.
- Kyle Larson (18th) is the defending race winner.
- Denny Hamlin (24th) qualified as the worst of all playoff drivers.
- Joey Hand (27th) replaces JJ Yeley behind the wheel of the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford. Hand runs the road course races for this program.
- Noah Gragson (29th) continues subbing for Alex Bowman in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman suffered a concussion two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Daniil Kyvat (33rd) makes his third Cup start for Team Hezeberg this season and first since Watkins Glen. The former Formula 1 driver is running a limited schedule for the team.
- Mike Rockenfeller (34th) from Germany replaces Landon Cassill in the No. 77 run by Spire Motorsports. Rockenfeller, a former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, is making his second Cup start and first since Watkins Glen.
- JJ Yeley (35th) replaces Cody Ware behind the wheel of the Rick Ware Racing No. 51 Ford. Ware is taking the race to recover after suffering a fractured ankle at Texas.
- Rookie Loris Hezemans (36th) is making his fifth Cup start of the season with Team Hezeberg. The organization is running a limited schedule this year, mostly on road courses, to prepare for a larger effort in 2023.
- Josh Williams (38th) replaces BJ McLeod in the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford. Williams is making his third Cup start; all of them have come on road courses.
- Conor Daly (39th) is making his Cup Series debut with The Money Team’s No. 50 Ford. The full-time IndyCar driver has run a total of three NASCAR races in lower divisions the past few years.
NASCAR Race Breakdown
Race: Bank of America ROVAL 400
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, Oct. 9
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 109 laps (248.5 miles)
Stage 1: 25 Laps
Stage 2: 25 Laps
Stage 3: 59 Laps
This week on the Frontstretch Podcast with Bryan Nolen, Daniel Hemric of the NASCAR Xfinity Series stops by to chat about his season running for Kaulig Racing, his bid to defend the NXS championship as well as his 2023 plans. Nolen and co-host Stephen Stumpf then discuss another crazy week in the NASCAR news cycle before turning their attention to who might come out on top at the Charlotte ROVAL.