Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell Kick Off Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 Week with Pep Rally in Uptown Charlotte
Before Kurt Busch burns rubber in Sunday's Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the veteran driver - and defending ROVAL™ pole winner - joined NASCAR Xfinity Series championship favorite Christopher Bell in cooling off fans at Bank of America Plaza on Tuesday.
While previewing the weekend's ROVAL™ festivities, Busch and Bell served fans cups of Rocky ROVAL™ ice cream - salted caramel ice cream with chocolate chunks, marshmallow swirls and candied bacon pieces. Additionally, the Johnson C. Smith University International Institution of Sound (I.I.O.S.) Marching Band performed on Bank of America Plaza.
The event gave both drivers a chance to discuss a difficult task ahead of them: for Busch, winning the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 and for Bell, winning Saturday's Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.
Busch said the 17-turn, 2.28-mile ROVAL™ - replete with a new backstretch chicane - offers a unique challenge to drivers, crews and cars.
"It's great to feel that hometown atmosphere of a pep rally with the excitement of a Playoff race, a cutoff race and the second time we're racing on the ROVAL™," Busch said. "Charlotte is doing a great job of promoting it and embracing this cutoff race. You can feel the energy. You can feel the excitement. Race day is going to be big this year.
"It's still about executing as a team and trying to stay out of trouble. The backstretch chicane will be tight. It'll be like the frontstretch one now. You've really got to slow down. There's an option to use first gear. Most of the time it'll be second gear but it just depends on who gets bottled up in front of you. It's going to be wild. … Everybody's anticipating having a better run this year."
Bell said the ROVAL™ stands out for more than the tight chicanes, sweeping turns and high-speed corners.
"The ROVAL™ is one of the most exciting tracks that we have, especially in the Playoffs and really anywhere," he added. "Last year, when we went to the ROVAL™ I was totally shocked at how nice the venue was. Typically whenever you go to road courses, it's more of an out-in-the-woods race track, so to speak.
"Charlotte, man, whenever you're rolling around there, it almost looks like a Formula 1 venue, just because of all the paint outside the race track. They do a great job of preparing the venue to make it a huge event."
Greg Walter, the executive vice president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, said that a turnout featuring fans from all 50 states and 20 foreign countries is a credit to the speedway's culture of being an innovator.
"We want to continue to add to it," Walter said. "From a road course racer's standpoint, they call it a technical course. This course challenges a driver in a way they probably haven't been challenged before. … This community embraces big. Our partners like Bank of America, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Bojangles', they all understand the significance of this race. It makes for a worldwide showcase of what we do here."