There are a variety of auto racing-related terms those who don’t follow the sport on a regular basis but not completely understand without further explanation. Then there’s the “Roval.”
Even longtime racing fans are new to the description of what lies ahead at Charlotte Motor Speedway this week. Officials have constructed a 2.28-mile, 17-turn road circuit utilizing portions of the existing 1.5-mile oval to create a hybrid track now known as the “Roval.”
The result is the Bank of America Roval 400, one of the most anticipated races in years, with drivers set to face an unknown commodity where a competitive lap won’t be turned until the green flag flies on Sunday.
And if the race goes anything like the limited test sessions held on the layout, mayhem will ensue. Oh, an by the way, this is also a playoff race with the four drivers at the bottom of the standings eliminated from the championship picture.
Unlike every other track the series will visit this season and down the stretch during the playoff run, there are no past statistics or performances to analyze in hopes of predicting trends or Sunday’s outcome.
But fear not, fans of NASCAR betting. Despite the many unknowns, there are still a few solid choices to bet on that have a shot to do well on Sunday.
Last week’s Richmond winner is among those who don’t have to sweat out moving into the next round of the playoffs thanks to his Round 1 victory. All Busch is focused on is winning for an eighth time in 2018.
He’s been a very good road racer in recent years at other tracks on the NASCAR schedule, including Watkins Glen, where Busch is a two-time winner. He’s also been victorious at Sonoma another Cup Series road circuit.
He’s been nearly unstoppable all season with seven wins and needs only to start Sunday’s race in order to move on in the championship. So Harvick is another driver not needing to sweat playoff implications and can simply go flat out to try and find Victory Lane.
He’s been victorious at both Watkins Glen and Sonoma as well and has been adept at adapting his skills when necessary. Harvick also has one of the sport’s top crew chiefs in Rodney Childers calling the shots, and if the race comes down to strategy, that will be an advantage.
The Team Penske driver had his three-race winning streak snapped at Richmond last week, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort.
Keselowski was leading late, and it wasn’t until with just 37 laps remaining did Busch get by for the top spot and eventual win. He’s been one of the hottest drivers in the sport since the end of summer.
While Keselowski has been a steady road racer, but he has not won a race at NASCAR’s top level at either of the existing two courses. But he also has a premier strategist in crew chief Paul Wolfe at his side, so expect the No. 2 car to definitely be in the mix at the front of the field.
The defending series champion rarely shows an Achilles heel at any track on the schedule. It’s a testament to just how good the Furniture Row Racing team is in preparing fast race cars, which coupled with Truex’s abilities behind the wheel has resulted in four wins for far in 2018.
Wins at Watkins Glen and Sonoma are on Truex’s resume, and he did take part in both an open session as well as an additional tire test at the track earlier this year, giving him important additional laps around the “Roval.”
He’s already secured a spot in Round 2 of the playoffs, so add Truex Jr. to the list of drivers in the win-or-nothing category. If you’re thinking win, take him at +365 with SugarHouse.
Somehow Hamlin finds himself in the basement of the playoff standings thanks to miserable finishes to open the round at Las Vegas and Richmond. It’s a predicament one of the preseason favorites to win the title by many didn’t expect to find him in as he literally races for his playoff life on Sunday.
Others have come through in back-against-the-wall scenarios in past NASCAR playoffs, including Harvick and Keselowski.
There’s no reason for Hamlin to hold back or try to strategize his way to a top-10. Winning truly is the only thing for him. Joe Gibbs Racing equipment will provide a lot of horsepower, and Hamlin has demonstrated road racing skills over the course of his 31 win career.
It might be worth it to take a chance on a solid longshot and ride with Hamlin to win at +1600 with SugarHouse.