NASCAR drivers test the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval to mixed results


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With a year to go before the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway transitions to the roval layout — that’s road course oval — a Goodyear tire test on Tuesday and Wednesday proved that the experiment will be a matter of trial and error.

But mostly error for now.

Four drivers representing all three manufacturers took part in the two-day test designed to give Goodyear a compound baseline for next year’s 130-lap, 500-kilometer race. At one point, Kurt Busch drove through the front-stretch chicane as he struggled to get a handle on the 2.4-mile-long, 18-turn circuit.

All told, the consensus was that Goodyear went too hard on its initial compound, using a Watkins Glen formula on the high-speed infield road course, while the roval section of the track is currently too slow.

The drivers in attendance had no shortage of feedback or suggestions, which was the entire point of the test.

“It’s been interesting,” Truex said to sum up his experience after the first day and a half. “It’s been growing on me a bit since we started yesterday. The Watkins Glen tire that we started on was probably too hard for here. … Today has gone a lot smoother. It’s definitely an interesting track and were still trying to figure it out. It’s not your usual road course.”

Truex isn’t sure where drivers are going to pass yet because a) the test has consisted of single-car runs and b) the best tire has yet to be found. Further, Charlotte Motor Speedway has also tried multiple versions of the backstretch bus stop chicane intended to slow cars down entering oval turn 3.

“There’s a lot of exciting parts of the track,” Truex said with a hearty laugh. “It’s very narrow. It’s very rough. There’s a lot of swells and whoop-de-doos and craziness going on. It’s a little intimidating. There’s a lot of spots that made me nervous yesterday. I’m getting used to them now. But we need to look at walls and tire barriers, stuff like that.”



ROVAL layout picture redux


Busch says there too many turns in the infield and that makes the course too slow and not as exciting as it could be.

“There are a lot of slow sections in turn 5, turn 6 and turn 7, which those are good rhythmic corners, but they make turn 8 really awkward and that leads you into a tight turn 9, which then leads you into oval turn 1.

“So maybe there’s a chance we can talk them into reconfiguring to go straight from turn 7, skip 8 and go to turn 9. That way, we could have one less slow section that would help the flow of the track and help the exit of infield section onto the oval section. That would create more speed feel and eliminate the slow feeling.

“Frankly, a 3,500-pound car going 35 mph that many times isn’t that exciting.”

So again, where are drivers going to pass as it currently stands?

“That’s a great question,” he said. “I can’t tell you that. It’s hard to say. I know there’s a lot of places we can crash. I’m not sure about the passing yet.”

Like most things in the modern-day NASCAR, the teams, Goodyear and the speedway will continue to work together to find the best formula before next October. Busch says the track is challenging, even if it could stand a few minor tweaks.

“There is no room for taking a break or having a deep breath down a straightaway,” he said. “Literally, as soon as you’re in high gear off turn 4, you’re into a chicane. As soon as your back up through the gears in turn 4 and get to fourth gear and wide-open, you’re down-shifting and back on the brakes to go into the front-stretch chicane.

“It’s a very busy track.”


QA Answering questions about the NASCAR Charlotte ROVAL layout











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