CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott solidified his honorary title as the NASCAR Cup Series' King of the Roads on Sunday, Oct. 11, when he mounted an impressive drive to victory in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Oh, and the win in the cutdown race gives the popular Hendrick Motorsports driver an automatic berth in the Cup playoffs' Round of 8, which begins next weekend at Kansas Speedway.
"Best way to get in the next round is to win," Elliott said, "so hopefully we can do something with it."
Joining him in the next round will be Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Alex Bowman.
"Great improvement for our road course program," said Busch, who secured a Round of 8 berth when he won the first race of the three-race Round of 12. "Whether we were locked in or not, we came here to go for it."
Denny Hamlin won race No. 2 of the Round of 12 and also was locked into the next round.
Team Penske's Logano finished second on Sunday while Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing was third. Busch of Richard Childress racing was fourth while Penske's Ryan Blaney was fifth.
"We won our league. Nobody was beating that other car," Logano said of Elliott.
The victory at the CMS infield circuit was Elliott's fourth straight on road courses. It allowed him to move into second place on the series' list of consecutive road wins -- he broke a tie with Tony Stewart and moved to within two of Jeff Gordon (6) atop the all-time list.
Elliott has won almost half the road races he's started -- five of 12.
"I feel like road courses have been fortunate to us," Elliott said. "We just try to get a little better every time and tweak on the small things. I felt like I tweaked on some small things and got a little better than what I was here last year which is good."
Making Elliott's smile a bit wider with the victory must be the fact that next season the series will race six times on road courses.
Asked about all his big road course numbers, Elliott said "I feel like you start playing the points game and you can get yourself in trouble worrying about things that are just out of your hands. As much as you want to think about those things and want to worry about them, you just really have to focus on you.
"The pit stops were great. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) called a good race and got tires at the right time and luckily things worked out and we'll take it," he added. "Like I've always said, they're way too hard to get to get picky about when and where and how. So, I'm just glad to be here."
Kyle Busch's hopes to win two straight championships and a third overall ran into trouble just before the end of the second stage. Sitting near the points cutline, Busch appeared to blow a tire and clip Clint Bowyer -- or vice versa. Busch limped around the track on the flat tire and by the time he exited pit lane, he was in 35th place.
But Busch showed why he's considered by many as the best wheelman in NASCAR. He kept digging, using pit strategies and moving forward and with 25 laps to go had climbed to third place. When those ahead of him pitted under caution with 22 laps left, Busch stayed out and had his first lead of the day. But with 19 laps to go, Busch, on older tires, was passed for the lead by out-going teammate Jones and gone were his hopes.
Also failing to advance to the Round of 8 from the Round of 12 were Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola and Bowyer.
Bowyer essentially needed to win to advance and for a while late in the race it appeared it might be possible. The Stewart-Haas driver, who has announced he would retire and become a television announcer after the season, was running second with 40 laps to go. But a couple laps later Bowyer got into the back of another car and damaged the front of his car and that was that.
The race started out on a wet track and with the field on treaded rain tires. But 18 laps in to the 109-lap affair, Ty Dillon pitted for slicks and began moving so impressively through the field that others copied the move.