There is one race remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12. The drivers will take on the Charlotte Roval on October 9, and Ryan Blaney will top the list of those that can clinch early on points.
According to notes provided by NASCAR Media, Blaney can clinch his spot in the Round of Eight with a mere 21 points. If he finishes 16th without securing any stage points, he will achieve this goal. He could also do so earlier in the race if he focuses on fighting for stage wins.
Blaney has a history of strong performances at the Charlotte Roval. He won the inaugural race in 2018 after both Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson spun while battling for the win. He has since added two top-10 finishes and another top-five while completing every race at the North Carolina road course.
Blaney’s Teammates Each Can Move to the Round of Eight
While Blaney sits in the best position to move on to the Round of Eight, his two Team Penske teammates face different situations. Joey Logano is 18 points above the cutline, and he can clinch with 36 points. Austin Cindric is in a tie with Chase Briscoe for the final transfer spot, and he can clinch with 54 points.
Like Blaney, Logano has turned in strong performances at the Roval during his Cup Series career. He has four top-10 finishes in four starts and a career-best finish of second during the 2020 season. Logano has secured 34 points in two of these starts, 44 in another, and 42 in the most recent.
Cindric, for comparison, is an accomplished road course racer with experience across multiple motorsports series. However, he has never started a Cup Series race at the Roval. Though He does have three top-five finishes in four Xfinity Series starts at the track.
5 Other Drivers Can Clinch on Points
There are multiple drivers in need of a win to move on to the Round of Eight. This list includes William Byron and Christopher Bell, who are both in must-win situations. Though Byron’s situation could change based on the outcome of a penalty appeal on October 6.
Alex Bowman is also below the cutline and in a must-win situation. However, he will automatically face elimination as he misses his second consecutive race due to concussion symptoms from a crash at Texas Motor Speedway.
Five other drivers, for comparison, can still clinch on points. This list includes Ross Chastain, who needs 26 points, and Denny Hamlin, who needs 33. Kyle Larson (36 points), Daniel Suarez (42 points), and Chase Briscoe (54 points) round out the list.
Hamlin does not have the easiest path to the Round of Eight, but it’s not impossible. He can clinch with a top-five finish and no stage points. A top-10 finish could also get the job done.
Chastain and Suarez both enter the weekend in favorable positions considering they each have a road course win during the 2022 season. Chastain will need a top-10 finish with no stage points to secure his spot while Suarez will just have to stay near the front of the pack and avoid incidents.
Larson will also be a name to watch as the defending Roval winner. He also has a road course win in 2022, which he secured at Watkins Glen International. As long as he keeps his car clean and turns in a solid performance, he should easily move on to the Round of Eight.