Underdog Ryan Blaney Could Jeopardize Chase Elliott & HMS’ Lingering Hope With Roval Shocker After Talladega Surprise

Published 10/07/2023, 7:19 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

Every race carries its own narrative in NASCAR. But some events have the power to change the course of a season for drivers. The Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval is one such race. Especially for Hendrick Motorsports star driver and NASCAR’s golden boy Chase Elliott.

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Chase Elliott, the two-time Charlotte Roval winner, finds himself in an unusual position this season. Despite his remarkable road course prowess, Elliott has yet to secure a victory in the 2023 NASCAR season. However, the Roval offers a glimmer of hope for Hendrick Motorsports to finally get a win with Elliott. Since its introduction to the schedule in 2018, Elliott has claimed victory at this challenging track twice, making it one of his strongholds. However, as the playoffs are intensifying, a new contender is emerging who threatens HMS’s hopes.

Can Ryan Blaney repeat his 2018 heroics at Roval and crush Hendrick Motorsports’ hopes to win with Elliott?

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The Roval has a reputation for unpredictability, often turning the tide of the playoffs with its chaotic nature. The race will mark the conclusion of the Round of 12 in the playoffs. Although Elliott missed a significant portion of the regular season due to circumstances beyond his control, he has been instrumental in guiding his team through the playoffs. Thanks to the points earned by his replacements during those missed starts. Hendrick Motorsports is still in contention for an owner championship.

However, a challenge looms for Elliott in the form of last week’s Talladega winner Ryan Blaney. His victory at Talladega locked him into the next round of playoffs. With no pressure to accumulate stage points or secure a win for advancement, the Team Penske driver enters the Roval race with a sense of freedom. He has history on his side, having claimed victory in the debut race at Charlotte Roval in 2018 after a late-race incident involving Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.

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In Roval’s chaotic environment, where late-race chaos often determines the victor, Blaney’s strategic approach could be the key to repeating his success and potentially thwarting Elliott’s aspirations.

Watch This Story | Blaney Triumphs Over Harvick in Thrilling YellaWood 500

Amidst the anticipation of the final race of the Round of 12, Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports’ Vice President, recently spoke on Chase Elliott’s off-track endeavors.

Jeff Gordon let Chase Elliott off the hook for his off-track pursuits that cost him dearly this year

While the spotlight has often shone on Chase Elliott’s on-track performance, his off-track activities have also drawn attention this season. A snowboarding incident early in the year became a point of discussion, especially in light of Elliott’s missed races. Jeff Gordon recently shared his perspective on this matter, shedding light on the team’s stance.

Gordon emphasized the importance of drivers arriving at the racetrack in optimal physical and mental condition. He encouraged drivers to engage in activities they enjoy during the week to achieve this balance. Drawing from his own experiences, Gordon noted that he, too, participated in various off-track pursuits throughout his career to enhance his race-day preparation.

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In a recent interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Gordon said, “Guys, we want you to come to the racetrack on Sunday and be as well-prepared as you possibly can be to drive the race car. That’s physically, mentally, and balance in every way possible, and to me, that means that you have to have your home, life, and friends and family and relationships and activities that contribute to that.”

“I don’t have a problem with these guys doing things. You know, just be smart about it, do it, just make wise choices as you’re doing it. I love that Chase is snowboarding and doing things that make him happy and he enjoys, same with Alex, and same with William. So we support that, but there are limits to it. And those guys have to make those decisions,” he concluded.

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Kyle Petty Gives Chase Elliott’s Traitor a “Pat on the Back” After Their Surprising Performance at Talladega

Jeff Gordon’s insights provide a glimpse into the delicate balance between on-track and off-track pursuits in the world of professional racing. Do you think Blaney can make it two in a row at Roval? Share your thoughts and predictions with us in the comments below.

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Written by:

Veerendra Vikram Singh

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Veerendra Vikram Singh is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. A Motorsport fan at heart, he has been following NASCAR and Formula 1 for over a decade now and has covered the on and off-track life of some of the best in the sport. He is a big fan of Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch but never lets that get in the way of authentic and fact-based reporting.
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