Pit Note No. 2: Drivers Discuss the ROVAL™
Clint Bowyer expects a wild weekend at the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400, but the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff contender believes that Charlotte Motor Speedway's 2.28-mile, 17-turn ROVAL™ is just what the sport needs.
"Fans are feeling the energy right now," Bowyer said. "This was a good gauge for me. Yesterday we had a fan day at the shop at Stewart-Haas Racing. The turnout was phenomenal. It really took me back, the energy they were feeling. They are excited to see it. They got me excited. I think Marcus (Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith) has done a tremendous job with this. He has had the facility and the vision to do this.
"I think we're all going to be surprised to see the crowd that shows up for this race. We're trying something new. I'm happy our sport is doing that. When you look around here, there is a lot of signage and a lot of infrastructure that has changed. A lot of work went into this event this weekend. I hope for his sake that it goes off well. Sometimes, in this day and age, everything is oversold. But I think for this we will deliver in a big way. … Any time you have you have something new like this, it's an opportunity. Where we are in the playoffs, we need an opportunity. And this is exactly what this track is. I'm going to enjoy this weekend. The opportunity (to win) is there. We have to go out and take it."
Fellow playoff driver Ryan Blaney said that Friday's all-important Bojangles' Qualifying session will determine more than just the starting order for Sunday's race.
"Qualifying is important everywhere, but moreso here," Blaney said. "So we need to just try and stay out front as much as we can, and stay out of potential danger. We don't know how this race is going to go. … With our (points) position, we have to have a really good day."
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, said opinions of the track could depend on how a driver finishes - just like any other track.
"There will be a driver who gets crashed out who will be angry at the infield care center," Logano said. "They might mouth off and say something about the ROVAL™. It's important for all of us to understand … it's the same thing at superspeedways. You talk to the guy who wins the
race: 'I love superspeedway racing; it's great.' You talk to half of them who got crashed out: 'It stinks.' It just depends on what's going on."
Logano is clearly still learning the 17-turn, 2.28-mile layout, using a track map to help answer questions Friday morning. "When I started, I was like, 'Turns 3 and 4, you know, by the motorhome lot, where we used to park the buses," Logano said.
"I've learned most of the turns. I think everyone's probably going to have their own lingo. I call it 'NASCAR 1 and 2' and "NASCAR 3 and 4' when we get on to the race track. And I call (Turns 15, 16, 17) 'the last little chicane.' "I think I have the infield numbers right, but when I get on to the race track, it's so confusing. … The names of the turns will be interesting, how we number them, what we call them. Everyone will have their own lingo."
Road-course races can be demanding on driver and car, but Aric Almirola isn't concerned about the toll the ROVAL™ will take on himself. But the cars will take a pounding. "We ran a lot of laps at the test, so I feel like from an endurance standpoint, we should have a pretty good idea," Almirola said.
"The cars are going to take a beating. You look at most of the cars at the test, and the noses are beat up, the rockers and the side skirts are flared out from running over the curbs."