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AJ Allmendinger Pulls off the Upset at the Charlotte Roval

It has been said for years that the Round of 12 is the wild card Round of the NASCAR Playoffs. Starting in Texas, then heading to Talladega, and then most recently, the Charlotte Roval. The Roval is the most challenging track on the NASCAR circuit. Ever since the debut of The Roval in 2018, there has been chaotic racing, unpredictable finishes, and plenty of caution flags. This past Sunday was no different. But the one thing that was different from this past Sunday, was an unusual face in victory lane. This driver has won plenty of times in the NASCAR Xfinity Series but has not won often in the Cup Series.

An Upset in Charlotte:

For his entire racing career. AJ Allmendinger has been a profound Road Course racer. In his 17 Xfinity Series career wins, 11 of those wins have come on Road Courses. His 11 wins on Road Courses in the Xfinity Series are the most in any series in NASCAR history. Four of which have come at the Charlotte Roval. To call this win an upset would be a stretch. But considering how poor Allmendinger and Kaulig Racing have been running this season, this truly is an upset win. Allmendinger would start in sixth place on Sunday while Tyler Reddick qualified on the pole. Reddick would handily win stage one, which he needed to do for the Playoffs. Chase Elliott would win stage two after a caution would come out to end the stage.

Allmendinger didn’t come into play for the win until the final stage. On lap 58, Allmendinger would take the lead from Kyle Busch and wouldn’t look back. After several restarts and holding off young rookie, Ty Gibbs on the restarts, Allmendinger would finally get his chance on the final restart to drive away. Even with a late charge by William Byron, it wasn’t enough to catch Allmendinger. This win for Allmendinger is the third of his career and the first since Indianapolis in 2021. In his post-race interview, a very emotional Allmendinger dedicated this win to his newborn son. But as Allmendinger celebrated his win, four drivers had their championship hopes ended in Charlotte.

Who’s in and Who’s out of the Playoffs:

Coming into Sunday, there were only two drivers that could breathe easily in Charlotte. Those drivers were William Byron and Ryan Blaney. Byron stole the win in Texas after a late-race restart. Blaney edged out Kevin Harvick in a photo finish at Talladega. With those wins, they were already locked into the Round of Eight. On the other side of the playoff grid, Kyle Larson was 15 points above the cutline, and Brad Keselowski was two points above the cutline. Tyler Reddick came into Charlotte two points behind Keselowski. As previously said, Reddick won stage one to gain maximum stage points. This is what he needed to do as he advanced to the Round of Eight on points. On Saturday afternoon in practice, Kyle Larson didn’t make his job any easier on himself for the race.

Coming out of turn eight, Larson would smack the retaining wall, which forced the team to a backup car. Larson would start from dead last and would drive his way up to a 13th finishing position to advance to the Round of Eight. So, who fell short of making it into the Round of Eight? The four drivers who failed to advance were Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch. The big shocker of these four drivers is Kyle Busch. After a strong first season with Richard Childress Racing, it is a disappointment to be eliminated in the Round of 12. The next Round starts immediately next week out west in Las Vegas.

What to Expect from Las Vegas:

2022 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Joey Logano, has said that the first race of the Round of 8 is the most important race of the season. Logano would win his way into the Championship Four, and eventually the Championship. Earlier this season, William Byron gave an absolutely dominating performance at Las Vegas leading 176 of the 271 laps for the race. It will not be a shocker if either William Byron or Kyle Larson locks their way into the Championship Four this coming Sunday. In March, the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers led a combined total of 239 laps. If there is one Playoff driver to keep an eye on Sunday, it would be William Byron.

Current Playoff Standings:

1st: William Byron: +20 points above the cutline.

2nd: Martin Truex Jr: +15 points above the cutline.

3rd: Denny Hamlin: +11 points above the cutline.

4th: Kyle Larson: +3 points above the cutline.

5th: Chris Buescher.: -3 points below the cutline.

6thChristopher Bell: -8 points below the cutline.

7th: Tyler Reddick: -8 points below the cutline.

8thRyan Blaney: -10 points below the cutline.

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