NASCAR is adding a road course race to the playoffs – and it’s going to be in Charlotte.
On Tuesday, Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the 2018 Bank of America 500 will take place on its new ROVAL – a 2.4-mile, 13-turn course combining most of the outside track with a road course in the infield. It’s the first road course Cup series race in the history of the Speedway and the first road course to be featured in the Cup series playoffs since they began in 2003.
The Cup series hadn’t introduced a new track since 2011, when Kentucky Speedway joined the circuit. But with NASCAR looking to add a road course to its playoff series, it was hardly a secret that Charlotte Motor Speedway would unveil its new road course before long.
In January, A.J. Allmendinger – whose only Cup victory came at a road course in 2014 – tested a stock car on the ROVAL. Since then, decorated driver Mario Andretti and recent retirees Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton took their turns on the course.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“The track has definitely got potential …” Allmendinger said. “It’s a perfect mix for a race team to set up, whether you go for a full oval setup or somewhat of a road course setup.”
The first race on the ROVAL course is scheduled for Sept. 30, 2018, and will conclude Round 1 of the Cup series playoffs.
Five other things to know about the 2018 Cup series schedule, which was announced Tuesday:
▪ The regular season will end at Indianapolis, with the Brickyard 400 moving from its traditional late-July slot to Sept. 9.
▪ The playoffs will begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a new entrant on the postseason roster, on Sept. 16.
▪ Richmond, which had hosted the final regular-season race, moves into the playoffs with a Sept. 22, Saturday night race.
▪ Chicagoland falls out of the playoffs (in favor of that Las Vegas date), and the race there will be run on July 1.
▪ Dover gets a May 6 date in 2018, earlier than the traditional post-Charlotte June date.
2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule:
Feb. 11: Daytona International Speedway (Clash / Daytona 500 Qualifying)
Feb. 18: Daytona 500
Feb. 25: Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 4: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 11: Phoenix Raceway
March 18: Auto Club Speedway
March 25: Martinsville Speedway
April 8: Texas Motor Speedway
April 15: Bristol Motor Speedway
April 21: Richmond International Raceway
April 29: Talladega Superspeedway
May 6: Dover International Speedway
May 12: Kansas Speedway
May 19: Charlotte Motor Speedway (All-Star Race)
May 27: Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 3: Pocono Raceway
June 10: Michigan International Speedway
June 24: Sonoma Raceway
July 1: Chicagoland Speedway
July 7: Daytona International Speedway
July 14: Kentucky Speedway
July 22: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 29: Pocono Raceway
Aug. 5: Watkins Glen International
Aug. 12: Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 18: Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 2: Darlington Raceway
Sept. 9: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sept. 16: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sept. 22: Richmond International Raceway
Sept. 30: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Oct. 7: Dover International Speedway
Oct. 14: Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 21: Kansas Speedway
Oct. 28: Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 4: Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 11: Phoenix Raceway
Nov. 18: Homestead-Miami Speedway