What can we expect from the Roval?
NASCAR will be rolling out a new layout for the fall Charlotte race. NASCAR introduced the “Roval” back in May which is a mix of the traditional oval and an infield road course. Both the Monster Energy series and the XFINITY series will be running the track. Fans have been requesting a road course to be added to the playoffs to add more track diversity. The race will be the last race for the round of 16 in the Cup Series which will be something to watch as drivers face a new track along with the pressures of elimination. It will be the second playoff race for the XFINITY Series in the round of 12, so the race won’t as crucial for the XFINITY drivers.
On the track, you’ll see top speeds in the 175-mph range and minimum speeds in the 40s and 50s. You’ll see a range of challenges that ovals and road courses bring, and combining them into one track. It will really challenge the drivers’ overall skill. But will it bring an entertaining race? Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Daniel Hemic tested in October. Busch said after the test, “It’s going to be more about survival and being smart.” And “Just gonna tell you it’s very narrow.” Truex commented, “The bumps and the humps, and Charlotte isn’t a smooth track, to begin with, and then you add in the infield, which has been around a long time, and it has a lot of swells in it.”
The characteristics of this track based on the provided driver reviews can mean for a race that lacks passing as drivers just worry about not crashing. NASCAR wanted to please the fans by adding a road course without doing away with the second Charlotte date. The plan may backfire. The newness of the track may provide enough interest the first year but if the race is just “follow the leader” then we could see trouble.
What they could have done instead is add Road America to the playoff schedule. I’m sure NASCAR could have struck a deal with the track and I’m sure they’d be happy to host a playoff race. They could have revisited Watkins Glen as they have plenty of open dates in September. They could have replaced Chicago with a road course instead of adding a second Vegas race in the playoffs, which is the type of track NASCAR fans have been complaining about. NASCAR fans want real road courses, not “Rovals”. We can only hope this works for everyone.