Teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have been hands-down the cream of the crop this season on road courses, winning four of the six non-oval events held thus far in 2021. To anoint anyone besides Elliott or Larson as the favorite this weekend on the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, therefore, seems like a grave miscalculation. The reality is that no one has been better on road circuits this year than the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates, who both come into the weekend in position to advance to the Round of 8 based on their tremendous success up to this point in the season.
As for who might have the edge between Elliott and Larson, it’s probably Elliott — because of what he’s already achieved at the ROVAL, having gone to Victory Lane at the 2.32-mile, 17-turn course in each of the last two years. In fact, Elliott has an opportunity to make some history on Sunday by becoming the first driver to win Charlotte’s fall race three years in a row. The reigning Cup Series champion is in a five-way tie for most consecutive fall race wins at Charlotte (which up until 2018 had its fall race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval) and carries extra confidence into Sunday’s race knowing he’s already won twice on road courses this season. The one Cup race that Elliott hasn’t captured at the ROVAL was the very first one, held in 2018, where he finished sixth. Larson, meanwhile, has finished 25th and 13th, respectively, in two starts at the ROVAL, but neither of them came with his current team at Hendrick Motorsports.