Making The Grade: Bubba Prepares ROVAL™ Chicane
After experiencing a difficult learning curve in the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL™, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace got a head start on the speedway's new backstretch chicane on Tuesday.
With some assistance from Granite Contracting from nearby Cornelius, North Carolina, Wallace hopped in a road grader and smooth drum roller to spread and pack dirt to ready the surface for paving. While the chicane's original layout was 32 feet wide at its widest point, the upgraded version will be 54 feet at its widest point and will feature additional runoff areas. The new turns will require heavier braking and a sharper entry, but a wider radius will create more passing opportunities for the second Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 on Sept. 29.
"It's going to give us a better option to go through there and attack a little bit harder," Wallace said. "We're definitely going to be slowing down a bit more than what we were last year. I think the biggest thing we have is that we'll have runoff room now. We didn't have runoff room last year until I made runoff room (by crashing in practice). I led by example, unfortunately.
"It's an exciting race not only for the fans but for the sport. What (Speedway Motorsports, Inc. President and CEO) Marcus (Smith) and his staff have done here at Charlotte, it's giving everybody something new."
The upgraded backstretch chicane debuts with Bojangles' Qualifying on Sept. 27.
"Some drivers, like Bubba, tried to widen it on their own but after taking some consideration, we've decided to widen it on our own," said Greg Walter, Charlotte Motor Speedway's executive vice president and general manager. "It's a great passing zone and a great area for side-by-side racing. Bubba's a great sport. He understands that we're doing what we can to make the racing better for them."