Although only one of the dozen remaining playoff drivers — Denny Hamlin — is locked into the Round of 8, four drivers in particular have their work cut out for them heading to the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. Those four drivers are the ones on the wrong side of the cutline for advancing to the Round of 8: Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Alex Bowman.
The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Bowman has the steepest hill of all to climb. He’s ranked last among the 12 title contenders and will need nothing less than a win on the ROVAL to advance and keep his championship hopes alive. Both he and Byron were involved in accidents in Monday’s rain-shortened race at Talladega Superspeedway, further damaging their already fleeting title hopes which took an initial hit due to their subpar performances the previous weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the opening race of the Round of 12. So, their goal for Sunday’s race at the ROVAL is simple.
“We’re going to need to win,” Bowman said. “We'll do our best to make that happen.” Byron, who is a teammate of Bowman’s at Hendrick, will likely require a victory to remain in championship contention as well. “We’ll go to the ROVAL, try to win that one and advance that way,” Byron said. “We tried to win Las Vegas, and it didn’t work out. We tried to win at Talladega, and it didn’t work out. We’ll approach it like we do every week.”