CMS ‘Roval’ Feels Like ‘True Road Course’

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 1 2018

Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing exits a turn during Tuesday’s test at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s infield road course.

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Paul Menard said Tuesday he believes this year’s Bank of America 500 will be a “survival” race due to the characteristics possessed by Charlotte Motor Speedway’s new road course.

“It looks like Watkins Glen, it feels like Watkins Glen, but it has the grip of Sonoma. It’s pretty slippery on the infield, which is fun,” Menard said during his lunch break from a Goodyear tire test. “The infield section feels like a true road course. It’s pretty wide and has a nice flow to it. You also have some point and shoot sections (when you’re on the oval).”

Joining Menard at the test, which was rained out earlier this year, were Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne and Kyle Larson. Named the ROVAL by speedway personnel, the 2.42-mile course utilizes the 1.5-mile speedway and its infield road course.

Turn one is the turn that takes the cars off the oval and onto the road course. A driver must then negotiate seven turns before returning to the oval, which has two chicanes – one on the backstretch and one on the frontstretch. The eighth turn on the course returns the cars to the oval.

“We run a lot of second gear (on this course),” Menard said. “Basically, from before you come through the chicane before the start-finish line to all of the way through the infield you’re in second gear. I’m not shifting in the infield. Then when you come back onto the (oval) you pull third and fourth (gears) really quickly.”

Menard said the backstretch chicane was extremely fast, unlike the “Bus Stop” at Watkins Glen, and it wouldn’t be possible to run two-wide through it.

“Trying to find our cambers and things with the car so we don’t abuse the tires has been a bit of a challenge,” Menard said. “We have to be somewhere in between (Watkins Glen and Sonoma) and make it work everywhere. It’s unique. There is no room for error. Probably the best spots for passing would be into the frontstretch chicane or going into the first turn. There also are a couple of opportunities in the infield and coming onto the frontstretch at turn eight.”

The road course will be the first in NASCAR playoff history. It will be used for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series races scheduled for Sept. 28-30, and will mark the first Cup race on a road course-oval configuration. The 500 kilometer, 130-lap race will be the cutoff event in the playoffs’ first round.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 1 2018
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