Hurricane Matthew Pushes Back Start of NASCAR’s Round of 12

The Round of 12 was scheduled to begin on Saturday evening from NASCAR’s backyard at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But Hurricane Matthew forced the postponement of the Bank of America 500 to Sunday afternoon (noon EST, NBC). Mother Nature still hates NASCAR.

The Sprint Cup race will be followed by the Xfinity Series race, which was postponed from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon due to the inclement weather. Pre-race ceremonies will begin just past 11:30 a.m. with the green flag flying at noon sharp.

Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart were eliminated from the postseason last weekend, leaving only 12 drivers in The Chase. Everyone has the same amount of points and is even heading into round two, which is bound to produce some fireworks, increased drama, tension and tempers. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

Kevin Harvick will lead the field to the green flag when the race begins on the 1.5-mile asphalt track. He won his first pole of the season in his No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet, which has a special paint scheme for the weekend, with a blazing speed of 196.029 MPH (27.547 seconds).

Harvick told the media that he was very encouraged by the speed in his race car off the truck in qualifying, as they haven’t shown strength in that area all season. He won this race back in 2014 to secure his spot in the Round of 8, and he has four wins at Charlotte in his Cup career.

Rolling off second will be Alex Bowman in the No. 88, who is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and continuing to open some eyes. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott will start third, with Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart rounding out the top five.

AJ Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano will round out the top ten starting positions. Some other notables include Jimmie Johnson in 11th, Matt Kenseth in 17th, Austin Dillon in 19th, Brad Keselowski in 20th and Kurt Busch in 23rd.

The favorites are the Toyota’s (what’s new?). Truex Jr. headlines them. He’s coming off two wins in the first round and is as hot as he’s ever been in his career. Oh, and not to mention he won the Coca-Cola 600 earlier this summer in one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, leading over 580 of the 600 miles in the longest race of the season.

Yeah, the No. 78 has some momentum, and they’re the clear championship favorite.

The Joe Gibbs Racing foursome of Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Edwards and Hamlin will also be tough to beat due to their sheer speed. Harvick, starting from P1, along with Keselowski, who secured three top five finishes in the first round, will be fast all afternoon.

It will be interesting to see how the HMS duo of Elliott and Johnson perform as well. The No. 48 has been consistently fast since the Chase began, but Johnson’s team finds a way of shooting themselves in the foot, be it pit road penalties, bad strategy or anything in between.

But my pick to win is the man who can’t be beat right now – Martin Truex Jr. I think you’d be foolish to not pick him to find victory lane, but only time will tell. Enjoy the race!