Chase Elliott has been unstoppable at road courses, winning the previous three and four of the last six. At the Charlotte Roval, he had issues such as tire problems but that didn’t stop him from winning his fourth-straight road course race, locking him into the Round of 8.
Denny Hamlin, last week’s winner at Talladega, started on the pole and battled Brad Keselowski and Elliott for the lead. Keselowski held the early advantage. Elliott passed Hamlin for second as Ty Dillon entered the top five. He passed Hamlin for third on lap four. Elliott passed Keselowski for the lead on lap eight and held it going into the competition caution on lap 10 followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
On the restart, Truex took the lead over Elliott and Bowyer but Bowyer took the lead on the next lap. Many cars toward the middle of the pack pitted to change tires, boosting their stage-two track position.
With five laps left in stage one, Dillon passed Bowyer for the lead. With three laps to go in the stage, John Hunter Nemechek spun and was stuck in the grass, bringing out the caution. On the final lap shootout to end the stage, Dillon held off Christopher Bell to win stage one, his first of 2020 and the third of his career. Joey Logano, who finished eighth in the stage, was the only playoff driver to finish in the top 10.
Dillon pitted and dropped to the middle of the pack. Bell restarted in the lead followed by William Byron and Matt DiBenedetto. Byron took the lead one lap later.
About halfway through stage two, Keselowski spun and stalled, holding up Erik Jones and DiBenedetto in the process. With 11 laps to go in stage two, Ryan Blaney passed Byron for the lead. A caution came out for JJ Yeley with four laps left in stage two. On the restart, Kyle Busch suffered a flat tire and was forced to pit under green. Hamlin crashed while Blaney held off Elliott to win stage two.
Elliott had a loose wheel and had to pit twice under caution. Hamlin and Dillon were loose on the restart while Byron took the lead over Bell. Dillon was stuck on the grass with 45 laps in the race, bringing out the caution. Byron led on the restart, closely followed by Bowyer. Elliott quickly entered the top 10.
With 40 laps to go, the caution came out for Austin Dillon as he crashed into the wall. Meanwhile, Alex Bowman reported that he wasn’t feeling well inside the car. Byron sped on pit road, forcing him to drop to the rear on the restart. With 37 laps left, Bowyer suffered problems after collecting nose damage, slowing his progress on the track. Blaney crashed on lap 36 but continued to race. Ryan Preece took the lead followed by Bowman and Logano. Blaney then sped on pit road.
Elliott and Busch cruised up the pack and battled for the top five with Bowman, Preece and Logano. Bowman passed Preece for the lead followed by Elliott. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Bowman and Elliott battled for the lead with 27 laps to go with Elliott clearing Bowman one lap later.
With 23 laps left, the caution was called for debris with Elliott in the lead as Matt Kenseth crashed.
When the drivers pitted, Busch stayed out to take the lead on the restart followed by Jones, Hamlin and Elliott. Jones and Elliott both passed Busch for first and second, respectively, on lap 19. Elliott took the lead over Jones one lap later.
With 12 laps to go, Brennan Poole stalled, bringing out the caution. Elliott restarted in the lead followed by Logano. Elliott cruised ahead of the field to win the Charlotte Roval once again. He locked himself into the Round of 8. Logano finished second followed by Jones.
Busch, the defending champion in the Cup Series, finished 30th after pitting late due to a lack of fuel, eliminating him from the playoffs.
Drivers advancing to the round of 8:
Martin Truex Jr.
The NASCAR Cup Series will head to Kansas Speedway for the first race in the Round of 8 next Sunday.