For the first time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, a non-playoff driver won a race as four drivers were eliminated from the post-season.
The Bank of America ROVAL 400 was the Round of 12 elimination race. The four drivers with the lowest point total and no win in the Round of 12 would be eliminated from championship contention after the race. In the five Playoff races so far this season, five different Playoff drivers had won.
All season long, there were no automatic caution periods at the end of the first two stages of the road course races. NASCAR reverted to automatic cautions at the end of the stages for this race for some reason. That would give crew chiefs something else to consider when determining their race strategy.
Stage one of the race ran caution-free with Tyler Reddick capturing the win in the stage after starting from the pole. He led all 25 laps in stage one of the race. However, many cars pitted early to gain track position when the lead cars came in to pit during the caution at the end of the stage.
Chase Elliott was able to race forward and take the lead of the race nine laps into stage two of the race. He kept that lead the remainder of the stage to win it. The only caution in stage two came with just one lap remaining in the stage, ending stage two under caution.
Stage three (the final stage of the race) was longer and had five caution periods. That allowed AJ Allmendinger to continue to move forward in the field until he was able to take the lead for the first time on lap 58. He led the race for 13 laps before losing it to Ryan Blaney for six laps. AJ was able to regain the lead on lap 77 and keep it for the final 33 laps of the race. That gave him a race high 46 laps as the leader. Most importantly, he was the leader crossing the finish line to win the race. That gives AJ his first win of the 2023 Cup Series season and his third career win in NASCAR’s top division.
William Byron crossed the finish line just behind AJ for second-place. Kyle Busch finished in third. See the complete race results for the Bank of America ROVAL 400 here.
Despite finishing in third, Kyle Busch was one of the drivers eliminated from the Playoffs after the race at the ROVAL. The other three were Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain and Brad Keselowski. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series Point Standings here.
The Round of 8 will begin this week with the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, October 15th.
By: Buck Stevens