‘Cash or Pass’ Picks are for the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 11th.
The ROVAL was a shocking addition to the NASCAR playoff schedule during the 2018 season, and in both years since, it has provided a crazy day of racing that has ended with four drivers’ seasons coming to an end. Matters are no different in 2020, with the ROVAL acting as the last race in the Round of 12. Coming into the race, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, and Aric Almirola are well outside of the cutline, with everyone other than Busch likely needing a win to move on to the Round of 8. Throw in the possibility of a thunderstorm, and Sunday should provide a wild day of racing. Picking a race like this is never easy, but here goes.
Chase Elliott (+250)
Elliott doesn’t provide great value at +250, and some may say that this is almost too predictable, but he is a clear favorite at the ROVAL. Elliott won the race here last year even after going head-on into the first turn earlier in the race. He also won at the Daytona road course earlier this year, and at Watkins Glen in both 2018 and 2019. He’s been the best road course racer in the sport over the past two years and will have a great chance to punch his ticket to the Round of 8.
Kyle Busch (+1400)
Yes, this is becoming a weekly installment, but Kyle Busch has to win at some point, right? Busch currently sits 21 points behind the cut line and needs a big performance to even give himself a chance to move on. He still hasn’t won since the 2019 Homestead race, and 2020 hasn’t been the ideal season for him, but it’s still shocking if he doesn’t find a way to sneak into the Round of 8. Plus, his slim odds make Kyle Busch a nice value pick.
Alex Bowman (+1600)
After a lackluster summer, Bowman has flipped a switch in the playoffs and is now contending for a top-five finish pretty much every week. Bowman comes into the race on the right side of the playoff cutline but isn’t quite safe enough to race conservatively. Bowman has an average finish of 9.9 in his last seven road course starts, better than guys such as Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. +1600 also provides some very good value for a playoff driver who has been hot lately.
Denny Hamlin (+750)
Hamlin, for all his recent road course success (8.0 average finish with five top-fives in his last nine starts), has two points working against him. First, he hasn’t won a road course race during that time. Second, he’s already locked into the Round of 8. Betting on a locked-in driver is a double-edged sword of sorts. On one hand, the driver will likely race more conservatively, particularly against other drivers who aren’t locked-in. On the other hand, the driver has nothing to lose, so they may not race conservatively at all. Hamlin provides an intriguing, yet risky bet. The value isn’t great either, so it’s smart to pass here.
Brad Keselowski (+1400)
Despite there being some value for Keselowski at +1400, it’s not very good value compared to guys like Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer (both also +1400), or Alex Bowman (+1600). Since 2017, Keselowski’s average finish of 13.78 at road courses has yielded no wins and just two top-five finishes. Keselowski has raced well as of late, so expect him to be near the front, but perhaps not quite a win.
Aric Almirola (+5000)
In cutoff races, it’s always tempting to bet on one of the must-win guys. Almirola certainly falls into that category, as he comes into the ROVAL 48 points behind the cutline. Don’t waste your time here. Almirola hasn’t had much success at road courses, to the point where, even at +5000 odds, this bet just isn’t worth it. Since 2017, Almirola has just two top-ten finishes in eight road course races, with an average finish of 16.1, including a finish of 24th at the Daytona road course earlier this year.
Michael McDowell (+4000)
Every time NASCAR heads to a road course, McDowell is a guy to keep an eye on. As a bettor, the +4000 odds should raise an eyebrow, as the Front Row Motorsports driver actually has better odds than two playoff drivers (Almirola and Austin Dillon). He ran in the top-ten for most of the race at the Daytona road course and has a decent 16.2 average finish at road courses since 2017. McDowell would have to pull a huge upset to get to victory lane, but there’s definitely some value here.
Clint Bowyer (+1400)
For a driver who hasn’t won a race in two years, Bowyer’s +1400 odds do not provide great value. He has some success at road courses, with five top-fives in his last nine starts, and the highest average finish among the drivers in the field. However, he hasn’t won in any of those nine starts, and there has only been a select few races where the No. 14 has truly shown speed capable of contending for a win. Bowyer does essentially need to win to advance to the Round of 8, which makes him an intriguing pick, but caution should be exercised.