|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A "ROVAL-UTION"
The other day I took in the first major practice on Charlotte Motor Speedway's new road course and it was so wild my first thought was NASCAR is headed for a "
Just a few minutes after the practice began, Bubba Wallace crashed into the barriers entering the first turn into the infield portion of the course. A few drivers then went out and put big "X's" on that temporary wall. I guess that was to give them something to aim for or play the craziest game of tic-tac-toe ever.
"It's a challenging place," Chase Elliott said. "It is very narrow with very little room for mistakes and should be lots of crashes and things a lot of people want to see."
According to his teammate Jimmie Johnson, a lot of drivers who will start the 109-lap race won't be around to see the checkered flag, "You're on pins and needles afraid you're going to bust your butt. There's not a calm place around here. It's very easy to make mistakes and have big problems when you make mistakes."
Kurt Busch sees it the same way. "It's a tight, unforgiving track and we have to find the best way to find the points. It's going to be a unique challenge. It's going to be a fun ticket to have as a spectator and it's going to have everything from A-Z in it."
It's not just the drivers who are on edge, but their teams as well. "We can't look at Sonoma notes, we can't look at Watkins Glen notes", explained Paul Menard to NBC Sports. "We have to create our own because we're going 170 mph through the banking. We don't see anything like that at Watkins Glen and certainly not Sonoma."
Despite sunny skies, the test was delayed for two hours because the chicane on the backstretch was being cheated so badly by most of the
About that time the PRN boss man Doug Rice took me and turn announcer Rob Albright out to the back straightaway to see what would happen next. A few moments later, Larson came pouring through hopping the curbs and barely missing the tires and it left all three of us going "Man that's nuts"! We couldn't believe how much speed had been built up from the exit of the infield through the banking in the oval's first and second turns. By the time they got to that
Interestingly, Kevin Harvick would come through that chicane and make three, nice easy turns, practicing, I surmised the way he needs to, knowing more was going to be done to make sure it slows the cars down. I can easily see NASCAR taking further steps to make sure if drivers continue to try and cut straight through the chicane they'll do serious damage to their cars.
As for the chicane coming out of the banking in turn four, it was zany how many drivers wound up jumping the curbs and zipping straight through the grass as they headed for the start-line. Even a veteran like Brad Keselowski turned himself into a lawnmower on more than one occasion. Chase Elliott came in so hot one time he left thick, black skid marks a hundred yards long…and would have run over Larson if not for his spotter advising him to abort the corner exit.
The other thing that jumped out me was how narrow the whole road course was and how weird it must be for drivers going through the infield portion to see the other drivers coming directly at them as they came through the second turn of the speedway down the back straight. That led Johnson to say it was like "racing in a parking lot".
The other strange thing from when I've done races at the Glen, Sonoma, Daytona and the old Riverside Raceway in California, fans will be able to see the whole road course. That makes it totally unique to any other road race not just in America, but the world. Usually, they can see only a segment or a few segments of the course. Sonoma is one of the best viewing road courses anywhere, but the Roval has it beat.
What does this add up to when the green flag drops September 30th on the Bank of America Roval 400? Perhaps, Paul Menard summed it up best, "Should be a hell of
You know what, I think he's right.