Most fans have heard and (hopefully) read about the Roval course for Charlotte’s fall NASCAR Cup Series playoff race.
For the next two Tuesdays, fans have a chance to actually see the course, with the best Cup Series drivers running the one-of-a-kind course at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For free.
And on July 14, fans will even get a chance to drive their own cars on the course. All three days are part of what the track is calling the Roval Test Fest.
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So if you have to call in sick on either Tuesday, the thunderous roar of race-car engines (don’t forget to bring earplugs) just might be the therapy you need to rationalize that indulgence. Plus, you get to see three dozen NASCAR drivers, including every member of the top 25 in the Cup Series standings as of this week.
If you love left turns — including each and every one of the 1,336 that it took Martin Truex Jr. to win the 2017 Bank of America 500 — you may not appreciate the Roval course.
Many others will find the 2.28-mile course a refreshing change from the ordinary. The Roval melds CMS’s 1.5-mile oval with a unique infield road course that includes a 35-foot elevation change and multiple turns. Steering wheels will get a workout; the Roval course features 17 turns and two chicanes.
While testing may not be as exciting as live competition, these trial runs will feature the biggest names in NASCAR weaving through the course seeking ways to make their Chevrolet Camaros, Toyota Camrys or Ford Fusions take all those twists and turns even faster.
Testing runs each Tuesday from 9 to 5, with an hour lunch break at noon. Food, drinks, live music, games and mechanical bull rides are also part of the testing days.
▪ If you’re more a doer than a watcher, fans who have bought a ticket to the 2018 Bank of America Roval 400 on September 30 can sign up to take their own cars onto the track for three laps, according to the track’s website.
▪ Here are the drivers scheduled to come to Charlotte for testing. The list, of course, is subject to change.
Tuesday: Martin Truex Jr.; Jimmie Johnson; Chase Elliott; Kevin Harvick; Clint Bowyer; Denny Hamlin; Daniel Suarez; Brad Keselowski; Paul Menard; Trevor Bayne; Jamie McMurray; Austin Dillon; Ricky Stenhouse Jr.; Chris Buescher; Kasey Kahne; Michael McDowell; Gray Gaulding; Landon Cassill; B.J. McLeod.
July 17: Kyle Busch; Erik Jones; Ryan Blaney; Joey Logano; Kyle Larson; Aric Almirola; Kurt Busch; Alex Bowman; William Byron; Bubba Wallace; Ryan Newman; A.J. Allmendinger; Ty Dillon; Matt DiBenedetto; Corey LaJoie; David Ragan; Reed Sorenson.
▪ In more Roval news, CMS is expected to announce that the Sept. 30 race will be cut from 500 kilometers to 400, about 109 laps, according to Jim Utter at Motorsports.com. That’ll make the length of this race closer to road course events at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
▪ Toyota Racing revealed Tuesday that its teams in the Xfinity Series will switch from a Camry-branded racecar to the once iconic Supra label in 2019. The new street version of the Supra, a rear-wheel drive sports car being developed with BMW, is slated to return to Toyota showrooms in the first half of 2019. Supras were cut from the brand’s U.S. new car lineup in the late ‘90s.
The Camry will continue as Toyota’s Cup Series entry.