The Yellawood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway left the cutline very close with one race left in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs’ Round of 12.
As things stand, Brad Keselowski is just two points above the cutline heading to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval – thanks to winning stage two at Talladega.
Keselowski failed to finish outside of the top-10 for the first time in the playoffs. He finished 32nd after getting in a multi-car wreck he set off with a bump on lap 162.
With the Charlotte Roval looming, the points Keselowski did bring home at Talladega will serve big.
Keselowski has only has one top-5 finish at the Roval. Among the remaining playoff drivers, he has also earned the third-fewest points on road courses this year.
On the other side is Tyler Reddick.
Reddick sits -2 to the cutline and has earned the fourth-most points on road courses among playoff drivers.
The COTA winner finished 16th at Talladega, largely being out of the mix for most of the race – aside from earning a bonus point in stage two.
The script has been heavily flipped from last round when Reddick won at Kansas and comfortably secured his place in the next round.
Reddick will be dangerous at the Charlotte Roval, where he has a 7.3 average finish. His finishes are 12th, 2nd and 8th, the latter when he led 21 of 112 laps.
Ross Chastain came away from Talladega with the worst result, wrecking out on the final lap of stage one. A 37th-place finish cratered last season’s Championship Four driver from +12 points to the cutline to -9.
Lately, it’s been very hit or miss for Chastain. Apart from two top-five finishes this playoffs, the No. 1 car has finished 13th, 23rd and 37th.
With the Roval standing between Chastain and his championship hopes, he’ll need to show more speed there than in the past. In the 221 laps run at the Roval in the past two years, he has been in the top-15 for just 66 of those laps.
A driver who really needed a good day at Talladega, given his history at the Roval, was Bubba Wallace.
Finishing 23rd on the day, with the No. 23 in his pit box, it was an up and down day for Wallace.
The 23XI Racing driver was up front multiple times but couldn’t maintain his track position.
Entering the day just -2 to the cutline, he leaves Talladega -9 – with work to do in Charlotte.
Worse yet, Wallace has earned the fewest points on road courses this year of any playoff driver. He also has just one top-10 finish in five Roval starts.
Kyle Busch also had work to do entering Talladega, sitting -17 to the cutline. Busch, like Wallace, got to the front of the pack a handful of times, but couldn’t do much when he got there.
When he tried, he ran into trouble.
The wreck that took out Chastain at the end of stage one was set off when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran out of gas and caused him and Kyle Busch to hit the wall.
Finishing 26th on Sunday, Kyle Busch now sits 12th in points at -26 to the cutline.
Busch just needs to win and he can do it. He has two runner-up finishes on road courses this year.
- William Byron IN
- Ryan Blaney IN
- Denny Hamlin +50
- Christopher Bell +22
- Chris Buescher +19
- Martin Truex Jr. +17
- Kyle Larson +15
- Brad Keselowski +2
- Tyler Reddick -2
- Bubba Wallace -9
- Ross Chastain –10
- Kyle Busch -26
With everything on the line for these drivers, it’ll all come down to next Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400. It goes green just after 2 P.M. EST in Charlotte.