Four drivers took to the new Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval” this week as part of a two-day test. NASCAR and Goodyear were both looking for feedback on this test in preparation for next year’s Bank of America 500k. But, the test led to some mixed feedback from the drivers that participated.
Kurt Busch was one of the drivers to participate in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. The Daytona 500 champion said that the track to him was definitely needing some changes to the layout and that the slower speeds in the infield portion of the track isn’t very exciting.
“There’s a lot of slow sections in Turn 5, Turn 6 and Turn 7 which those are good rhythmic corners, Busch said this afternoon. They make Turn 8 really awkward, and that leads you into a tight Turn 9, which then leads you into oval Turn 1. So, maybe there’s a chance we can talk them into re-configuring, to go straight from Turn 7, skip 8 and go then to Turn 9. That way, we could have one less slow section that would help the flow of the track and help the exit of infield section onto the oval section. That would create more speed feel and eliminate the slow feeling.
“Frankly, a 3,500-pound car going 35 mph that many times isn’t that exciting.”
Both Busch nor Martin Truex Jr., the Toyota representative in the test, agree that passing will be difficult on this current layout and that crashing will come too easy.
“That’s a great question,” Busch said on passing areas. “I can’t tell you that. It’s hard to say. I know there’s a lot of places we can crash. I’m not sure about the passing yet.”
“There are a lot of exciting parts to the track,” Truex said sarcastically while laughing. “It’s very narrow…It’s very rough. There’s a lot of swells and whoop-de-doos and craziness going on. It’s a little intimidating. There’s a lot of spots that made me nervous yesterday. I’m getting used to them, but we need to look at walls and tire barriers, stuff like that.”
The Furniture Row Racing driver said that the “roval” could be compared to Talladega, joking that there are a lot of places that they could crash and could be like “Talladega” was.
The drivers also confirmed that the Goodyear tire configuration used in the test was from the Watkins Glen tire, and that it was too hard for the 18-turn, 2.4-mile layout. They cite that the wrong tire and using single car runs made it an “interesting” test session.
Furthermore, it was revealed that the race will be a 500-kilometer event next October, meaning that it will be 130 laps in length. But, with the current layout and lap current times, that means that this race may creep up to near four hours in length.
While lap times aren’t official during a test, plus speeds generally being quicker once the drivers become more familiar with the track, it’s safe to say it’s going to take at least a 1-minute, 30-seconds to get around the course nevertheless. If you take basically 90-seconds and multiply that by 130, you get 11,700 seconds. You then divide that number by 60 (60 seconds in a minute) and you get 195. With 60 minutes in an hour, divide that 195 by 60 again, you get 3-hours and 25-minutes.
But, I highly doubt that this race will be run at qualifying speeds for 130 laps. I also highly doubt that the race will go caution free, after all, Truex and Busch said that this could be a crashfest. So, factor in tire degradation with lap times falling off throughout a run, and at least two guaranteed cautions for stage breaks, and you get a race creeping into four hours.
That’s too long.
By comparison, the Watkins Glen race is 220 miles in duration. The average time for that race is just short of 2 1/2-hours to run to completion. The annual stop in Sonoma is 219 miles and it takes a little more than 2-hours and 45-minutes to run. The race in Charlotte will be around 314 miles.