TALLADEEGA, AL – OCTOBER 02: Austin Sendrick, driver of the #2 Discount Tyre Ford, walks on stage during driver introductions ahead of the NASCAR YellaWood 500 Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway on October 02, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Austin Cendrick and Chase Briscoe may be close friends off the track. But next weekend’s 12th round race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval is all for themselves.
“[Briscoe’s] After finishing ninth at Talladega Super Speedway on Sunday, Cendric said, I had every time we went to the Roval, so look at me as the underdog in that position.
The friendly duo finished off a spot apart in Talladega, with Brisco taking 10th place. It’s the first time in his career that he’s made a consecutive top-10 effort, as he finished in the top five in Texas last weekend.
Talladega could have ended very differently for Cendrick. Ford No. 2 was one of two match drivers (Joey Lugano) involved in the eight-car pileup on lap 25.
Meanwhile, Briscoe earned a single stage point in the second stage and shipped late to 10th. He knows that being in the top eight in points after Charlotte Roval – who won his first Xfinity Series race in 2018 – is not going to be easy.
“I would have liked you to score some more points, but being tied in the final race of this round is better than being 10 or 11 ahead,” Briscoe said. “We came over the cut line and came out even. Roval is a place that I feel like getting around really well.
“It would be completely different with this [Next Gen] Sentences. It was very difficult to pass every road lap we took this year, so qualifying is going to be important.”
Briscoe described it as odd to be linked with Cindric’s entry into ROVAL.
“We always talk a lot about slap with each other, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this week,” he said. “We have a chance, we just have to go and take advantage of it.”
It is not possible to get a win from one of the drivers under the battle of Briscoe and Cindric next weekend. William Byron enters the race 11 points off the cut-off line, although the call of Hendrick Motorsports of Texas will be heard this week. If it is flipped — HMS thinks it has a case — Byron could toss out both drivers and be inside the top eight.
In five previous races on the road in 2022, Byron had the best result of ninth at Sonoma. He just got disappointed trying for 12th in Talladega.
“This year’s road structures have been a bit up and down, but I definitely feel it [the ROVAL] Byron said. “We had a good run last year, so we have to keep up with that.
“I’m still puzzled as of today; he was never really working and couldn’t really get to the front.”
After finishing the top five in the first three races of qualifying, Christopher Bell had a run to forget. The 20th car scored zero stage points and finished 17th in Talladega – and even entered the pit road in stage two.
Bale is in a must-win position, 33 points below the bubble.
“It’s a terrible race, in general for me,” Bell said of Talladega. “We needed to come here and increase the points and unfortunately we couldn’t do that.”
The good news for Bale is that he took a road win in the Cup Series on his resume, even though Toyota struggled on road laps in 2022. The bright side is that the #20 car was the best of the bunch when it turned right and left this year.
“Looking at the Indy Road track, we were close to winning,” Bell said. “There will be a lot of carnage. Hopefully we will be competitive and we can be up front.”
Alex Bowman was unable to race in Talladega after he developed concussion-like symptoms in the aftermath of the plane crash in Texas. Rick Hendrik said in his post-race press conference on Sunday that Bowman is likely to return to ROVAL, having secured first place in all four competitions, including the runner-up result in 2019.
Daniel Suarez edges the cut-off streak by 12 points, who took his first cup win earlier this year at Sonoma and made three top-five spots on the roads in 2022. After earning one point on the slash line in Talladega – where he said His engine is running out with 10 laps left – he’s confident next week.
“Race on the road is a thing in our wheelhouse,” he said. “Look forward to it.”
If Byron’s penalty is not voided, all eyes will be on the Briscoe-Sendrick fight when the race begins. Both drivers were strong on road training sessions in 2022, with a slight advantage in the second team’s favour, taking a four-top of the top 10 in five races.
“I used to race him and I know it’s going to be a fair and clean fight,” Briscoe noted. “This is one I’m looking forward to, but he’s not the only guy we’re racing with. We’re going to go out there and score as many points as we can, hopefully win the race and whatever the points are at the end, they are.”
Cindric knows ROVAL will be tough on equipment and can cause some durability issues. But as he said, entering a slash race with a tie is “better than entering 11th below.”