CONCORD, N.C. – Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “roval” is practically brand-new but the 2.28-mile layout has already had its first facelift.
Nothing major, just a touchup, but enough to bring Tuesday’s open test for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams to a halt for more than one hour.
“It’s all about keeping everybody honest,” Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing said. “Not bypassing what is supposed to be the racing groove, the racing line.”
That “groove” was along the backstretch, through a chicane near the entrance to Turn 3 that is meant to slow cars down. The initial “rumble strips” weren’t enough to dissuade some from staying on the gas, however, and shooting through the area without losing any speed.
That presented a safety concern for NASCAR and a product concern for Goodyear officials, who developed a tire combination based on speeds and tire wear following two previous tire tests.
After consulting with drivers, crew chiefs, track and NASCAR officials, a consensus was reached. Additional rumble strips were installed as well as a tire barrier just at the exit of the chicane.
The move was expected to slow cars by approximately two seconds, the original plan before drivers discovered the drive-by. Or drive-over.
Teams seemed to be happy. Officials with the track and NASCAR and Goodyear seemed to be happy. Testing resumed. An hour was added to the schedule to make up for the down time.
“It’s the same thing they do at every other road course or street course or whatever,” Newman said. “We’re dealing with SAFER barriers on both sides, which is great, but you don’t want to put up any kind of hard walls over there in a situation like that where we carry 150, 160 mph in a braking zone.
“Putting up the tires and taller than average speed bumps (or) curbing … is in my opinion one of the best ways to do it.”
There was only one incident of note in the morning session – Darrell Wallace (Richard Petty Motorsports No.43 Chevrolet) slid into the tire barrier at the Turn 1 entrance to the road course portion of the layout.
Wallace was not injured, however damage to the car was too significant for the team to continue.
Seventeen teams were scheduled to participate and most, if not all, showed up.
On July 17, the remainder of those competing in the series this year will get their chance on the “roval” during a second open test.
The Bank of America Roval 400 is scheduled for Sept. 30 at CMS.