By Walker Polivka
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs continue today with the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Read on below to see our prediction for who will win the race, as well as our top 10, dark horse, and driver to fade predictions.
Driver to Fade: Loris Hezemans- One of several international drivers in the field today, Hezemans has had a solid career in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, winning 11 races and 2 Championships since 2018. Racing part-time for Team Hezeberg in the Cup Series this season, Hezemans has had little success to show for himself, finishing 34th, 37th, 37th, and 33rd in his 4 previous road course starts this season. Hezemans was one of the slowest in both Practice and Qualifying yesterday and we predict that his lack of success will continue this afternoon with another finish outside the top 30.
Dark Horse: Michael McDowell- McDowell is in the midst of a career season, with 2 top 5’s and 12 top 10’s in 31 starts. McDowell has also been excellent on the road courses this year, finishing 13th, 3rd, 8th, 8th, and 6th. McDowell doesn’t have super impressive results at the Charlotte ROVAL, but he is consistent, with 3 top 20 finishes in 4 previous starts. McDowell had solid pace yesterday in Practice and will start today’s race from the 11th position. McDowell’s best finish at the ROVAL is 12th, but we predict that he will better that with a 5th straight top 10 finish on a road course.
Top 10: Austin Cindric- Cindric is in the midst of a solid rookie campaign, with 1 win, 5 top 5’s, and 9 top 10’s. Cindric was very well known for his road course skills in the Xfinity Series, winning on the road courses 5 times in his Xfinity career, and those skills have transitioned into the Cup Series, as he has finished 8th, 5th, 7th, 2nd, and 13th in the 5 road course races this season. Cindric always brings the speed at road courses and yesterday was no different, as he finished 2nd in Practice and 5th in Qualifying. Cindric starts the day 12 points below the cut line, but we predict that he will put together a solid race today and bring home a top 10 finish.
Winner: AJ Allmendinger- The TRUE road course king, Allmendinger is the gold standard when it comes to making right turns, with 11 of his 15 career NASCAR wins coming on road courses. Allmendinger is having a career-defining year this season in the Xfinity Series, with 5 wins (4 of them on road courses), 15 top 5’s, and 26 top 10’s in 29 starts. In the Xfinity Series, Allmendinger is 4 for 4 at the Charlotte ROVAL, winning all 4 times he has raced there. Allmedinger also has success here in the Cup Series, finishing 7th here in 2018 and 38th here last year after leading 5 laps before losing an engine during the race. Allmendinger is also having a nice run in the Cup Series this season, with 5 top 10’s in 13 starts, highlighted by a 2nd place finish at Watkins Glen. Allmendinger was fastest in Practice yesterday and Qualified 7th for today’s race, but we predict that he will make his way to the front quickly and pull off the weekend sweep with a win at the Charlotte ROVAL!