Pre-Race Notebook: Rocky's ROVAL™ Return, Elliott Chases A Win
Mike Rockenfeller expects his second try in the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 to go better than his first.
A Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) champion and the 2010 winner of both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Rockenfeller's road racing resume stands out among his peers. None of the German driver’s globe-trotting exploits could prepare him for the challenge that is Charlotte’s 2.28-mile, 17-turn ROVAL™, however.
Rockenfeller qualified 34th and finished 29th in a Spire Motorsports-owned Chevrolet last year. He’s piloting Legacy Motor Club’s No. 42 Chevrolet for Sunday’s race – which has Rockenfeller rolling off 26th.
Last year’s experience should help matters, but only when it comes to knowing the track, Rockenfeller said.
“The track itself is in good condition like it was last year. It’s super tricky,” he added. “Generally, it’s very technical, because it’s not like you only brake, turn and go. You have a lot of elevation changes, a lot of corners where you are loaded already and you want to brake.
“Those (NASCAR Cup Series) cars are tough to muscle around. It took me too long to get going (Saturday), but I felt like I was better than last year’s qualifying. I feel good that we can have a decent race.”
Elliott Seeks Third ROVAL™ Victory
Chase Elliott hasn’t enjoyed the success he expected he’d achieve when the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series began.
No wins and a 17th-place ranking in the standings – compounded by missing six races due to injury and one from a suspension – means the 2020 series champion is headed for his worst points finish of his career.
If there’s any track that can add some sunlight to Elliott’s season, though, it’s the Charlotte ROVAL™. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet won the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 in 2019 and 2020, so there’s reason to believe Elliott could grab Win No. 1 on the season in Sunday’s race.
It’ll take a team effort, Elliott said, to return to the winner’s circle on Sunday.
“At the end of the day, it’s always a mixture of the car and the driver,” he added. “I’m just trying to learn the most I can learn for my car and my team. We just need to nail it and not make any mistakes.
“This place has a lot going on, in not a lot of space. … It’s just tight, and it’s hard to find a rhythm. It is definitely unique. We have been coming here for a few years now, so there is some sense of normalcy. With the traffic, it’s challenging.”
Lucky for Elliott, he won’t have to face a ton of traffic ahead of him at the start. He’ll roll off eighth.