NASCAR Cup Series

A Few Key Drivers Left with Significant Finishes After ROVAL

Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ended with a breathtaking ending that had some drivers appalled with their Playoff results.

Fans witnessed one of the craziest finishes in NASCAR history and the talk after the event was the last lap and the Playoff results going into the round of 12.

Ultimately, there were a few drivers that ended the race with a strong result that was much needed.

Jamie McMurray scored a second-place finish, which is crucial as it was announced in early September that his 12th-full time season with Chip Ganassi Racing would be last with them.

After missing the Playoffs, McMurray did everything in his control to stay out of trouble at the ROVAL. Although he did not finish in the top-10 at the end of the first two stages, McMurray was in the right place at the end of the event.

The 42-year-old captured his second top-five finish of the season.

“Yeah, our DC Solar Chevy was really good all day long,” McMurray said. “We got a little bit off in the last pit sequence. We got a little bit behind, but had a really good car and then we had the one restart when Brad (Keselowski) was on the front row and I happened to be on the inside and that was the lane to be in so you could avoid the wreck.”

Luck was on a few drivers side this past Sunday and McMurray was one of those that took full advantage of it.

As the season winds down, McMurray may be one of the drivers without a ride next year and his performance at Charlotte and the upcoming weekends may open opportunities for the veteran.

Last week, it was announced that AJ Allmendinger would not be returning to JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger brought the team its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and handled the situation with much positivity and honesty when he met with the media.

“Nobody likes being without a job,” he said. “The possibility of not having a paycheck coming can be scary. But change can also be a very good thing. The more time I sit and think about it and talk about it with my family, it’s literally been a year and a half I’ve not been happy. We’ve struggled (as a team). It hasn’t been fun. It’s hard on everybody.”

The 36-year-old put the busy news week behind him and got off to a hot start on Friday at the ROVAL. Allmendinger qualified second and was looking like he was in route to having a promising weekend and maybe capturing the win. After surviving the race and a couple strong restarts, Allmendinger finished seventh in the inaugural event.

Rumors circling the garage are that Allmendinger is either going to run Sports Cars or join the Verizon Indy Car Series. But whatever is in Allmendinger’s future, finishing the season off with momentum will be a boost in wherever he is racing next year.

Another driver that had a key finish was Grass Valley, California’s Matt DiBenedetto. The 26-year-old captured his sixth top-20th finish of the season at the mysterious ROVAL.

Mysterious it was for DiBenedetto.

DiBenedetto was of those drivers that never tested at the track and went into the weekend with knowledge from a simulator.

As crazy as that sounds, DiBenedetto stated in his race recap video that his No. 32 Superior Logistics Services Ford Fusion had speed which lead him to a 13th place finish.

DiBenedetto announced in early September that he would be leaving Go Fast Racing at the end of the season. Strong finishes with the No. 32 team to end the year off could be huge for DiBenedetto and possibly have an impact on the future of his career.


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By Brandon Rivero

Brandon Rivero lives 45 miles north of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he currently is a student at Florida International University school of Communications and Journalism with a focus in Public Relations. In addition to POPULAR SPEED, Rivero is a member of his university's Public Relations Student Society of America and an intern for the Florida Panthers NHL Club.