Last week, King Richard Petty caused a bit of a ruckus calling dirt racing “unprofessional.” Do you know what is really unprofessional? Having turn 1 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL contribute to the outcome of the NASCAR playoffs. Speaking of unprofessional, how about racing on a wet track not because of rain but because of weepers that were uncontrollable. If NASCAR wants to add excitement and chaos to their playoffs, why not just add a Figure 8 race instead?
Dirt racing on a non-dirt track like Bristol Motor Speedway is not unprofessional as Petty suggested, but it is a gimmick just like the ROVAL. Gimmicks belong in Road Runner Challenge events at Rockford Speedway, not as part of the NASCAR playoffs.
Let’s check the Power Rankings after the Ridiculous ROVAL.
- Kevin Harvick – His amazing season helped him survive the second round of the playoffs despite an average finish of 13th. It might take a win to make it to the Championship 4.
- Denny Hamlin – Hamlin’s average finish in the first round of the playoffs was worse than Harvick’s in the second round, showing the importance of the regular season. The next three tracks should result in at least one win for Hamlin.
- Chase Elliott – The new king of the road courses came through again on the ROVAL. Could this be a championship season 32 years after his dad won?
- Martin Truex Jr. – Only two drivers have more top-five finishes than Truex. It will take a win for Truex to advance to the Championship 4.
- Brad Keselowski – Keselowski managed to survive three very average races during the second round of the playoffs. It might take a win to advance to the Championship 4.
- Joey Logano – Logano hasn’t visited victory lane since the fourth race of the season. Can he come through with a win this round, or will he fall short of winning another championship?
- Kyle Busch – Rowdy has won at least one race for 15 straight years but is running out of time this season. He has a chance to be a spoiler over the next four races.
- Alex Bowman – Bowman the Showman only has four top-five finishes all season, but all it will take is another win to make it to the Championship 4.
- Kurt Busch – Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The other Busch is the big underdog this round.
- Clint Bowyer – NASCAR’s funny man was not laughing about giving it all he could on the ROVAL. Finishing 10th without power steering for the last 544 turns showed how bad he wanted to win on Sunday.
- Aric Almirola – The retirement of Clint Bowyer and the apparent move by Hendrick Motorsports to hire Kyle Larson in the coming weeks opens the door to one more year for Almirola in the No. 10 car. Bacon is kind to Almirola!
- William Byron – Byron failed to survive the first round of the playoffs this season and has been more inconsistent this year compared to last. He has led almost 100 fewer laps and his average finishing position is a little over one position worse.
- Austin Dillon – Dillon was only able to post four top-five finishes through the opening 32 races of the season. Two of those finishes ended up being in consecutive races during the first round of the playoffs, but he quickly reverted back to his usual level of performance.
- Cole Custer – Cold Custard’s rookie season has been full of ups and downs. He got a win going four-wide during a late restart at Kentucky Speedway for a win to make the playoffs. But the No. 41 team only has two top-five results all season.
- Ryan Blaney – Blaney was an early departure from the playoffs this season. But only six drivers have tallied more top-five finishes than the No. 12 team thus far.
- Matt DiBenedetto – Guido made the playoffs this season which bought him one more year with the Wood Brothers. Sadly, he will once again be racing for his career next season.
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I’m not buying the Larson to Hendrick deal. I know Tony Stewart has wanted to hire him badly, as stated in the past. With Stewart-Haas, Larson gets great equipment, a great tutor, in Stewart and an owner who doesn’t mind Larson catching a dirt race every now and then. Larson to Stewart-Haas…