Home Local Sports The Russ Racing Report: Elliot is a true threat to the championship

The Russ Racing Report: Elliot is a true threat to the championship

Photos courtesy NASCAR Media

NASCAR was at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend for the second running of The Roval.

The track configuration only saw one change to the backstretch chicane, but the racing was no different from last year. With side-by-side action and the drama of who was getting cut from the Playoffs, it was on par with the inaugural race.

Chase Elliott Strikes Wall Head On, Rebounds For The Win

It was one of the most impressive performances of the year and another major highlight of the 23-year-old’s career. Nabbing his 6th Cup Series win, Elliott has been making a name for himself as a road course specialist.

After locking up the brakes and slamming into the wall of “heartburn turn” on the frontstretch, it looked as though his day was done. He was locked into the next round already with enough points to advance, so one might expect his team to decide they had no need to stick around with the damage. Instead, Elliott came back from 37th place and took the checkered flag. He celebrated by doing a burnout on the exact spot he wrecked.

There’s no doubt that Elliott has been the front runner at Hendrick Motorsports this year, now up to three wins on the season (the other two at Talladega and Watkins Glen), the Dawsonville, Georgia native is now a legitimate threat to the championship.

Thanks to the win, Elliott enters the Round of 12 at 6th with 19 points above the cutline. His win gave him five bonus points to carry over every round. He’ll still have a hill to climb with three Joe Gibbs drivers, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick all sitting above him. But with Talladega in this next round, Elliott may have a chance to put himself into the round with another win. Also in this round is Dover, where he won in the spring of last season.

Should Elliott get a win at either of those two, he’ll be able to breeze through the cutoff race at Kansas and focus on the Round of 8. But just in case, Elliott also has a win in the Sunflower State from the fall race last year as well as a top five back in the spring of this season.

Watch out Gibbs, Logano, and Harvick. NASCAR’s new most popular driver may be hoisting that championship come Homestead.

Drivers In The Groove

This section highlights a driver in each of NASCAR’s national touring series for having a solid race in the weekend.

In The Groove

MENCS: Alex Bowman

Hendrick Motorsports as a whole was on fire at the Charlotte Roval and no doubt Elliott was at the forefront, but Alex Bowman was fighting for the final position of the Round of 12 against Ryan Newman. Towards the end of the race, Bowman was either tied or only a point ahead of Newman. The tiebreaker would have saved the 88 driver, but it was no longer needed as the 6 was penalized for cutting the backstretch chicane short. Still, it was quite impressive to see Bowman battle all the way up to a second place finish. And he got a Gatorade bath from Bubba Wallace.

NXS: Noah Gragson

The JR Motorsports driver had a huge week for the second race of the Xfinity Series Playoffs at the Roval. Gragson finished 5th after starting 12th and racked up enough points to put him 11 above the cutline heading into the elimination race Dover. Although he may not be completely safe, it’s still a strong lead over the guys beneath him.

Looking Ahead: Dover

The Monster Mile will play host to both the Monster Energy Cup and Xfinity Series this weekend. Back in the spring race in the Cup Series, Martin Truex Jr. grabbed the checkered flag leading 132 laps. But the river who led more than him was Chase Elliott at 145. Given Elliott’s past success at the Delaware track, he is no doubt the favorite. But don’t count out Truex to sweep at the Monster Mile. He’s been a short-track stud this season and he’s won two of the last six races with an average finish of 4.7. Truex also swept the two Richmond races and has won two of the first three races in the Playoffs with finishing 7th at the Roval.

Playoff Standings After Charlotte Roval

Now Entering Round of 12: Race 1 of 3 at Dover

1. Kyle Busch, +43

2. Martin Truex Jr., +36

3. Denny Hamlin, +25

4. Joey Logano, +24

5. Kevin Harvick, +23

6. Chase Elliott, +19

7. Brad Kselowski, +19

8. Kyle Larson, +1

9. Alex Bowman, -1

10. Ryan Blaney, -2

11. William Byron, -5

12. Clint Bowyer, -6

Eliminated from Playoffs

Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones

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