The Charlotte Motor Speedway ‘Roval’ course is officially a go.
The hybrid oval-road course track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, first announced last year, has been scrutinized ahead of its debut at the 2018 Bank of America 500. Based on feedback from road tests in October, the course was modified and now appears ready for this season’s NASCAR playoffs.
The track was originally introduced at 2.42 mileswith 18 turns. Drivers and Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith took issue with some of the track’s tighter, slower turns, the new design will instead be 2.28 miles long and 17 turns, cutting out one major turn that will save an estimated 15 to 20 seconds per lap. That will help keep the race length down to comparable lengths with other races instead of stretching it into a drastically longer event.
“It’s hard to find something we have not done here at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Smith said Monday. “It’s in our DNA. This time, we’re going to bring racing action that fans have not seen before in a speedway setting.”
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Charlotte Motor Speedway, which has a history of innovation in racing, will be the first road course in NASCAR playoff history.
And while fans may be clamoring for that type of excitement, drivers are ... well, more nervous.
“I think everybody’s excited and the drivers are a bit nervous,” Martin Truex Jr., the reigning Bank of America 500 winner and Cup Series champion, said. “We don’t like wild-card races, so to speak.”
The Roval will feature about 35 feet of elevation changes, something Smith said is difficult to see but impossible to ignore in the car.
Smith and CMS pushed for the Roval course to create three distinct races at Charlotte’s track – the high-stakes All-Star race, the longest race in the Coca-Cola 600, and the road course, which could leave some drivers frustrated.
“Victory Lane is going to be a fun place,” Smith said jokingly, “and pit road may be in need of some extra security.”
Truex, one of a handful of drivers who tested the original Roval design in October, said he would have liked to have more practice on this track, but that’s part of what will make the Roval unique.
“You’re not going to want to come here and have to win,” Truex said. “It’s going to be a high-stress moment if you do.”