For the first time in several years, NASCAR saw a non-playoff driver win a Cup Series playoff race when Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing went to Victory Lane in Monday’s rain-shortened event at Talladega Superspeedway. Now, this begs the question: Could another driver who is outside of the playoffs score an upset victory this weekend on the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway?
The answer is an emphatic yes. Much like Talladega, the ROVAL is very much considered a Wild Card in these playoffs. In other words, just about anything can happen due to the uncertain nature of the racing. It wouldn’t be shocking at all for a non-playoff driver, particularly one who excels on road courses, to get a “W” on Sunday and in so doing steal some thunder from the championship contenders. As for the non-playoff drivers with the best opportunity to do this, look no further than Ross Chastain, Kurt Busch, Chase Briscoe and part-time Cup driver AJ Allmendinger — all four of whom have a history of strong performances on road courses.
In fact, it was just a couple of months ago that Briscoe — a Cup Series rookie — was in position to win on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before a last-lap penalty took him out of contention, handing the win to Allmendinger. Chastain, meanwhile, has three top-10 finishes on road courses this year, including a fourth-place result at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas back in May. Busch, a former series champion and veteran of the sport, can win just about anywhere, of course.