Three NASCAR Cup Series races held so far on the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway have produced three wildly entertaining events marked by off-track excursions, dustups between competitors and dramatic finishes. Expect Sunday’s showdown on the 2.32-mile, 17-turn road course to be no different, especially since it’s the Round of 12 elimination race where four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention and unable to advance to the Round of 8. But what is it about the ROVAL that makes it so prone to generalized mayhem?
“I would just say that it really doesn’t have any room for error,” said playoff driver Alex Bowman. “It’s a tough place to get around. Once you start pushing, if you make any mistakes, they tend to bite you pretty hard. I’ve been guilty of that there. Late in final practice a couple of years ago, I destroyed a race car. It’s just really easy to get yourself in trouble and overdrive a corner and tear something up. So, I feel like that’s what really makes it a Wild Card. You have a lot of mistakes from people that you may not normally see.”
The ROVAL is also tough from a preparation standpoint because it combines portions of the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval with the road course. “I think the biggest challenge with the ROVAL is that you have to somewhat set up your car to run on the oval, especially turns 3 and 4 of the oval,” said Martin Truex Jr., another playoff driver. “It kind of keeps you from setting up the car the way you want to for the infield, so it just makes it a big challenge. That’s the biggest thing. It always seems like the infield there is pretty bumpy. The car’s never in the racetrack very good, because the tires are hard for the oval. It’s just a big compromise. I think that’s the biggest thing.”