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What to Watch for: Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

NASCAR Goes "Roval" Racing for First Time

There's been 119 NASCAR Cup Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but Sunday's race will see something entirely different. The track will run around most of the oval, but will make a turn off the regular course before Turn 1 and wind through the infield. This oval/road course combo is known as a "Roval".

In addition to running through the infield, there will be 2 chicanes on the track where the cars will run down to the apron and then back onto the track.

By the Numbers: NASCAR Roval Racing

• 2.28 miles; 0.78 miles more than usual oval
• 17 turns; 13 more than usual oval
• 109 laps; 248.52 miles will be longest road course races of season
• 112,000: square feet of synthetic turf installed

For the purposes of statistically record-keeping, this will be a separate track from Charlotte Motor Speeway. The Roval will be the first track to be added to the schedule since Kentucky in July 2011. The only active drivers to win the inaugural race at a track are Kyle Busch (Kentucky) and Kevin Harvick (Chicago).

Kyle Busch has already won at every track he's raced at in the Cup Series. But with the Charlotte Roval being categorized as a different track, Busch will have to win here to check the final box of having won at every track on the season's schedule. That's only been done by 3 drivers in series history. (SOURCE - Past Research)

1 Race Left in Round of 16; Johnson, Hamlin in Trouble

The Round of 16 will finish up with a wild card in the Charlotte Roval. 12 drivers will move on in the playoffs to the next 3-race round, but only 3 of those spots have been clinched entering the weekend - Round of 16 race winners Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, along with Martin Truex Jr.

Kevin Harvick enters in good shape - he needs to just start Sunday to clinch his spot in the next round. A win gets any of the Round of 16 drivers into the next round, but other than victory, few of the drivers have a finish that will guarantee them a spot in the next round. (SOURCE - NASCAR release)

Points are awarded for races on a 40-35-34...1 basis. And stage points from 10-1 will be awarded to the top-10 finishers after the 1st and 2nd stages.

2 notable drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, are on the outside looking in entering the Round of 16 finale, along with Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones. Johnson is having one of the worst seasons of his career, while Hamlin enters as 1 of 5 drivers to make it to the Round of 12 in each of the first 4 seasons of the NASCAR Playoffs with the elimination format.

Busch Joins Harvick With 7-Win Seasons

Kyle Busch picked up his 7th win of the season last week at Richmond, tying Kevin Harvick for the series lead. Martin Truex Jr. led the series with 8 wins last year, but before that, no driver had won 7 races in a season since Matt Kenseth in 2013. The record for wins in a season in the playoff era is 10 by Jimmie Johnson in 2007. (SOURCE & NASCAR DB)

7-win seasons are rare, but it's even more rare to have multiple 7-win drivers in the same season. It's only been done 4 times since 1980. (SOURCE: NASCAR DB)

Who's Hot and Who's Not - Charlotte Roval

HOT

Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row): finished 1st (Sonoma) and 2nd (Watkins Glen) in 2 road course races this season (SOURCE)
Chase Elliott (Hendrick): picked up 1st career Cup Series win in last road course race at Watkins Glen (SOURCE)
Kyle Busch (Hendrick): finished 8th or better in 9 of last 10 races (2 wins in span; leads all active drivers with 4 road course wins (SOURCE, SOURCE)
Brad Keselowski (Penske): on stretch of 4 straight top-10 finishes; hasn't had 5 straight since 2nd-6th races of last season (SOURCE)
Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas): finished 12th or better in last 12 road course races (7.0 Avg finish) (SOURCE)

NOT

Joey Logano (Penske): 28.0 Avg finish in 2 road course races this season (SOURCE)
Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick): finished outside top 10 in last 6 road course races (22.7 Avg finish) (SOURCE)
Denny Hamlin (Gibbs): 3.4 Avg start, 13.2 Avg finish in last 9 races (SOURCE)
Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas): 1 top-5 finish in his last 11 races (5th at Indianapolis) (SOURCE)
Erik Jones (Gibbs): finished outside top 10 in both playoff races after ending regular season with 9 top-10 finishes in last 11 races (SOURCE)

--- ESPN Stats & Info ---