You’ll be shocked to learn that Chase Elliott is the favorite to win Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).
Elliott has won two of the four races at the track and is widely considered the best road course racer in the Cup Series. He’s also the only driver locked into the third round of the playoffs after his win at Talladega. Elliott has five victories so far in 2022; no other driver has more than two.
Elliott became the first playoff driver to win a playoff race and he enters the Roval with the benefit of not having to worry about points. The top eight drivers in the standings move onto the third round; there are seven spots up for grabs on Sunday.
With Alex Bowman out because of a concussion suffered on Sep. 25, three drivers will be eliminated. Austin Cindric is currently tied for eighth with Chase Briscoe and is closer to second in the points standings than he is to Christopher Bell in 11th.
Bell is 65 points back of Ryan Blaney in second while Cindric is 32 points back. William Byron is between Cindric and Bell and 11 points back of Briscoe in the eighth and final playoff spot. He could reasonably get into the playoffs with an average day thanks to misfortune by drivers ahead of him.
Bell, meanwhile, needs to get as many stage points as possible and finish in the top 10 to have a decent shot at advancing. With a maximum of 20 stage points available in the first two stages, Bell could win the opening stages of the race and would still be 11th in the standings.
Here’s a look at the points standings ahead of the final race of the second round.
1. Chase Elliott (Talladega win)
2. Ryan Blaney, 3,101 points
3. Ross Chastain, 3,097
4. Denny Hamlin, 3,090
5. Joey Logano, 3,087
6. Kyle Larson, 3,087
7. Daniel Suarez, 3,081
8. Chase Briscoe, 3,069
9. Austin Cindric, 3,069
10. William Byron, 3,058
11. Christopher Bell, 3,036
12. Alex Bowman, 3,015
Chase Elliott (+400)
Tyler Reddick (+600)
Kyle Larson (+800)
AJ Allmendinger (+1000)
Daniel Suarez (+1400)
William Byron (+1400)
Elliott’s average finish is fifth over four races. Reddick’s is seventh, though he’s raced just twice at the Roval. Larson’s win a season ago is his only top-five finish at the track and Allmendinger should be up front for much of the race. Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano are just outside the top six favorites and have average finishes inside the top 10. They’re worth a serious look on Sunday even if they’re not among the top five favorites.
Good mid-tier value
Denny Hamlin (+1800)
Martin Truex Jr. (+2800)
Hamlin has just one top-five finish in four starts at the Roval but has started each of the last two races on the pole and has never finished outside the top 20. Truex has two top-10 finishes and his 29th-place finish in 2021 was his first outside the top 15.
Don’t bet this driver
Daniel Suarez (+1400)
We’re not sure why Suarez is among the favorites to win the race. Yeah, he won at Sonoma, but he’s never finished better than 13th at the Roval and that’s his only finish inside the top 20.
Looking for a long shot?
Cole Custer (+10000)
Custer isn’t going to win on Sunday. But he does have two top-20 finishes and a top 10 at the Roval. There are worse long shots to lose your money on.