Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have won the last two road course races, respectively, and the last time the Cup Series competed on a road course — at Sonoma Raceway in early June — Larson took the victory with teammate Elliott coming home a close second. Given Elliott’s history as by far the Cup Series’ most successful road course racer over the last few years, and given that Larson knows his way around road courses and has been the series’ most dominant driver in recent weeks, it should be a big weekend for both of the Hendrick Motorsports boys.
However, this is by no means to suggest that Elliott and Larson won’t be challenged. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. has been stout on road courses over the last several years, too, and there’s always the possibility of a major upset. Take, for example, 2021 Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell. His only win in 94 Xfinity Series starts came back in 2016 at Road America. If last weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono did anything, it served as a reminder that anything’s possible in the NASCAR Cup Series these days.
After all, who expected Kyle Larson to have a comfortable lead on the final lap of Saturday’s race, only to suffer a tire failure in the last turn, hit the wall and hand the win to Alex Bowman? Likewise, who would have imagined Kyle Busch battling through a transmission issue on Sunday at Pocono to win a race largely determined by fuel mileage? The bottom line is that Elliott and Larson are the favorites this weekend, but neither is a shoe-in to go to Victory Lane.