Blaney wins electrifying Inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400 as Round of 16 concludes

by Bryan Rivero On Sun, Sep. 30, 2018

Photo Credit: Brad Keppel, Speedwaymedia.com

Ryan Blaney wins the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after passing two cars in the final turn of the last lap of the race. This marks his first win of the year and his first at a road course.

This is a race that will be talked about for years to come. Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones championship dreams came to an end this afternoon.

It only took six laps for Kyle Larson to take the lead from polesitter Kurt Busch as he then cruised to take the first stage of the race.

For several Playoff drivers, problems emerged early on.  Hamlin had to pit on lap six because of an issue with his hood. The first caution was brought out on Lap 13 as the No. 51 of Stanton Barrett crashed into the wall on turn one.

Another Playoff driver that had some issues early on was Erik Jones. Jones got stuck in a three-wide mess on a restart going into turn one. The nose of his car got smashed up as he was put in a must-win situation.

The pit strategy was different for all drivers during the race. Some cars elected to pit before the end of Stage 1 while some were seen pitting during the break with a few including leader Larson not pitting until the start of Stage 2. Stage 1 concluded with important stage points going to drivers like Alex Bowman, Blaney, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.

Larson gave up the lead on lap 38 to Blaney as he entered pit road for the first time all afternoon. The strategy by Larson, Truex, and Kyle Busch was to run the race with only two stops to pit road.

On Lap 45 William Byron was slow on the track as Aric Almirola crashed into the wall trying to avoid him. He had to pit and was penalized for an uncontrolled tire. Brad Keselowski pitted from the second position with 11 laps to go in Stage 2 which basically secured the stage win for Blaney.

Larson was back to the lead at the start of the final stage because he stayed out during the stage caution.

On Lap 59 Austin Dillon crashed into the wall trying to avoid Chris Buescher, bringing out a caution for debris. The Daytona 500 winner bent the wheel after hitting the wall. On lap 65 Dillon hit the wall again and took his car to the garage. His championship run came to an end after the incident.

Aric Almirola ran into more trouble on Lap 69 spinning into the grass while Buescher was spinning into the wall bringing out a caution. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the field into the restart losing the lead shortly to Brad Keselowski.

More trouble erupted for Erik Jones spinning forcing him down to the apron. This almost secured that his run for the championship was over.

“It’s unfortunate, you get put three-wide and there’s only so much you can do as a driver. It’s too bad and we’ll have to move on from here and get ready for next year. You hate to be knocked out of the Playoffs this early, but it is what it is.” Jones said.

Things started to heat up when Larson caught Keselowski with 26 Laps left. It was a good battle for the lead for a few laps but Keselowski was able to take off and continue his lead.

Most of the cars on the lead pack were told that they were short on fuel to make it to the end. Bubble driver Alex Bowman played it safe and pitted from the 15th position to be good to the end. This got a few other drivers to pit for fuel as well.

Late race drama occurred as a caution came out with under 10 laps to go.

The fuel mileage spectacle continued since none of the leaders pitted for fuel. The restart resulted in a hard wreck going into the first turn wiping out Keselowski, Larson, and William Byron. Larson went from being very comfortable to advancing to the next round, to barely making it. His damage was heavy.

“I knew that it was going to be tough to turn getting into (turn) 1. I didn’t know that all of us were going to go in there and not be able to turn at all. I was going to struggle to make the corner and then the No. 2, he just went head-on into the wall. I was hoping I would have enough room to squeak by him, but I got into him and destroyed the right-front of our car.” Larson said.

Keselowski is lucky to have a win and was already locked into the next round.

“I was just asking Ricky. I don’t know. The whole field went down into turn one it looked like and we all went straight. I don’t know. Maybe we all overdrove it. Maybe the track had something on it. I don’t know. I got in the corner. I didn’t feel like I got in it, I got in hard, but not like ridiculously hard and it just locked up. I couldn’t get the tire to unlock, so I felt really, really dumb when I hit the wall and then I got back in the care center and saw the replay and saw everybody kind of did the same thing.” Keselowski said.

Johnson and Truex Jr. battled until the final turn of the last lap for the race win which resulted in contact which sent both cars spinning, allowing Blaney to capture the win.

“Last corner desperation behind us, that’s what you get. I gave him (Jimmie Johnson) the inside lane and he had the run through (turn) four and I was real tight down there. I let him have the inside going down inside coming out of four there to the chicane. He just over-drove it and was never going to make it and used me as brakes and turned us both around. It sucks, we could have raced side-by-side off the last corner for a win and that would have been cool. The fans would have been digging it, but instead, we finished 14th and he’s locked out of the Playoffs. I guess that’s what he gets.” Truex Jr. said.

Johnson, Almirola and Larson finished in a three-way tie giving the advantage to Larson and Almirola to advancing into the Round of 12.  “I’m so proud of these guys. We’re moving on to the Round of 12 and we’ll go get ‘em in Dover.” Almirola said.

The seven-time champion will have to wait another year for number eight.  “I Took myself out of a shot at the championship and obviously affected their day which I feel bad about,” Johnson said.

It was probably the craziest race in a long time as we now turn to the Round of 12 starting at Dover next Sunday.

 

Unofficial series points standings after the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400
1. Kyle Busch (P) 18 3055
2. Kevin Harvick (P) 4 3050 -5
3. Martin Truex Jr. (P) 78 3038 -17
4. Brad Keselowski (P) 2 3025 -30
5. Clint Bowyer (P) 14 3015 -40
6. Joey Logano (P) 22 3014 -41
7. Kurt Busch (P) 41 3014 -41
8. Ryan Blaney (P) 12 3013 -42
9. Chase Elliott (P) 9 3008 -47
10. Kyle Larson (P) 42 3006 -49
11. Aric Almirola (P) 10 3001 -54
12. Alex Bowman (P) 88 3000 -55
13. Jimmie Johnson (P) 48 2097 -958
14. Austin Dillon (P) 3 2066 -989
15. Denny Hamlin (P) 11 2053 -1002
16. Erik Jones (P) 20 2041 -1014

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race
Unofficial Race Results for the inaugural Bank Of America Roval 400 – Sunday, September 30, 2018
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course – Concord, NC – 2.28 Mile Paved
Total Race Length – 109 Laps – 248.52 Miles

Pos St Car Driver Team Make
1 9 12 Ryan Blaney (P) Menards/Pennzoil Ford
2 8 1 Jamie McMurray DC Solar Chevrolet
3 7 14 Clint Bowyer (P) Mobil 1/Advance Auto Parts Ford
4 3 88 Alex Bowman (P) Axalta Chevrolet
5 1 41 Kurt Busch (P) Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford
6 4 9 Chase Elliott (P) SunEnergy1 Chevrolet
7 2 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet
8 6 48 Jimmie Johnson (P) Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet
9 19 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Jimmy John’s New 9-Grain Wheat Sub Ford
10 15 22 Joey Logano (P) Shell Pennzoil Ford
11 29 31 Ryan Newman Grainger/American Red Cross Chevrolet
12 27 11 Denny Hamlin (P) FedEx Freight Toyota
13 28 32 Matt DiBenedetto Superior Logistics Services Inc. Ford
14 13 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota
15 32 95 Regan Smith Procore Chevrolet
16 30 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford
17 10 37 Chris Buescher Maple Cheerios Chevrolet
18 18 34 Michael McDowell K-LOVE Radio Ford
19 20 10 Aric Almirola (P) Smithfield Ford
20 33 72 Cole Whitt Rinnai Chevrolet
21 17 19 Daniel Suarez Lenox Toyota
22 26 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet
23 11 8 * Daniel Hemric(i) Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet
24 35 7 * Ross Chastain(i) SOKAL Media Group Chevrolet
25 5 42 Kyle Larson (P) Clover/First Data Chevrolet
26 37 96 * Jeffrey Earnhardt iK9/Xtreme Concepts Toyota
27 31 15 Justin Marks(i) GoPro Motorplex/Pickers Vodka Chevrolet
28 36 23 JJ Yeley(i) Adirondack Tree Surgeons Toyota
29 38 00 Landon Cassill(i) Dairi O Chevrolet
30 12 20 Erik Jones (P) Reser’s Toyota
31 25 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Alliance Truck Parts Ford
32 14 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M’s Toyota
33 22 21 Paul Menard Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
34 21 24 William Byron # Unifirst Chevrolet
35 16 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford
36 34 43 Bubba Wallace # World Wide Technology Chevrolet
37 23 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Ford
38 40 66 * Timmy Hill(i) Ternio Toyota
39 24 3 Austin Dillon (P) Dow Chevrolet
40 39 51 Stanton Barrett Jacob Companies Ford
** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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