Aric Amirola is in the hunt this weekend at Charlotte.

Aric Amirola is in the hunt this weekend at Charlotte.

This weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the final race of the MENCS playoffs’ Round of 16. Following Sunday’s race, four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention and we’ll be one step closer to determining who will be hoisting the

trophy here at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 17.

The pressure on the drivers facing elimination will be at an all-time high as it is their last chance to keep their championship hopes alive. The sense of urgency amongst the drivers is growing, and cutoff races are always full of uncertainty and intensity.

This weekend will be no different as for the second consecutive year, NASCAR takes on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course to end the opening round of the playoffs. Dubbed the ROVAL, the course incorporates both segments of the road course as well as part of the Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval.

It is perhaps the most unique track layout that NASCAR visits during the course of the season, but while it is a relatively new concept for NASCAR, it is something that other series have done in the past. The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway has been using a similar layout for years as the cars run nearly the entire oval before getting onto the road course just after the start finish line.

Even here at Homestead-Miami Speedway we utilize portions of both of our tracks when different series run what we call the modified road course. Our modified road course sees drivers weave through the road course in our infield and then get on the backstretch of the oval run through Turns 3 and 4 before heading back onto the road course.

So you can imagine by these examples that the ROVAL will be hectic as it will require a driver to showcase a wide array of skills to get around the track with a winning time. Couple the course with the fact that Sunday is the last race in the Round of 16 and it sets up for lots of excitement and drama for fans.

And if last year was any indication, there will be plenty of drama indeed. For those of you who don’t remember, the ROVAL gave us one of the best finishes of the year as seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson was eliminated from the playoffs when he and Martin Truex Jr. wrecked each other on the final turn, opening the door for Ryan Blaney to drive to Victory Lane. 

This weekend looks like it will be more of the same as there are several drivers battling to stay alive in the playoffs, and they are only separated by a handful of points. Blaney, Aric Almirola and William Byron currently hold the last three spots, but Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer trail by only two and four points, respectively.

Then there’s Kurt Busch and Erik Jones remaining. Although Busch and Jones are a little further below the cutline than the aforementioned drivers, each has reason to be confident heading to the ROVAL. Busch is one of the best road course racers in NASCAR and picked up a top-5 and 17 stage points in last year’s ROVAL race. Jones, meanwhile, picked up his second career victory just a few weeks ago and looked strong last week before having his fourth place finish disqualified.

With so much on the line, I can’t wait to see what unfold in Charlotte this weekend, especially knowing that it will have a big effect on how the playoffs shake out. And if you think the intensity of this cutoff race will have you on the edge of your seat, just wait until the season culminates at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Ford Championship Weekends, November 15-17.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, September 29 at 2:30 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, September 28 at 3:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Sep. 28-29 Championship Cup Series (CCS)

Oct. 4 Fast Lane Friday

Oct. 12-13 Porsche and BMW Owners Club

Oct. 19-20 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)

Oct. 26-27 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 15

Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Series Championship Race

2020 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Mar. 20

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race

Mar. 21

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race

Mar. 22

NASCAR Cup Series Race

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