By Ben White
The ROVAL road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the newest permanent track configuration used on NASCAR’s Cup Series schedule dating back to October of 2018. The list of winners on the racing surface made up of both a right and left-turn course, as well as a portion of the high-banked oval built in 1960, consists of only two winners, that of Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, was the winner of the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Sept. 30, 2018. In that race, Blaney was running third on the final lap when Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, spun off Turn 17 with the checkered flag in sight. Blaney was ready for anything to happen.
“When I got out of the Bus Stop (on the backstretch), I could still see them through the oval in (Turns) 3 and 4, and they were really close to each other,” Blaney said. “Jimmie was almost pushing him (Truex Jr.). I was like, hmm, it might get physical here.” I don’t know what happened. By the time I got to them or by the time I was able to see something, Jimmie was sideways, and I’m sure they just tried to out-brake each other, which you can’t blame them. They’re going for the win, of course.
“When I was thinking they were kind of sitting there, I almost wrecked trying to get through the chicane as fast as I could just because you’re trying to make up time and try to seize the moment. But it was kind of just disbelief…you’re kind of shocked that something like that happens and that you’re lucky to be in that spot. Luck has not been on our side very often. Sometimes you find a nut.”
Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, has won the most Cup Series races on the ROVAL thus far with victories in 2019 and 2020 on the 109 lap-2.280-mile course. He was proven to be one of the very best road course drivers among today’s top stars, having logged six of his 13-career victories on road courses thus far in 216 starts
"The best way to get into the next round is to win,'' Elliott said after his 2020 victory on the ROVAL. "Looking forward to the opportunity and looking to make some noise. I feel like road courses have been fortunate to us the last few trips, but I feel like we just try to get a little better every time and tweak on the small things.”