CONCORD, N.C. — It’s safe to say some of NASCAR’s best are still learning their way around the new Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval” – the infield road course that also utilizes pretty much all of the 1.5-mile oval.
NASCAR hosted its second scheduled test at the 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course Tuesday, and several drivers ran into problems while navigating the new track.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman ran into trouble in turns three and four, spinning his No. 88 car and crashing into the tire barrier. Luckily for Bowman the damage was minimal and he resumed testing after minor repairs and a front splitter change.
“I just got loose in and tried to keep it out of the tire barriers,” Bowman told NASCAR.com. “It’s just a really awkward section through there, where we’ve been free in throughout the day, anyway. Just got in a little too hot and it was K.O. the tier barriers or spin it out, and I spun it out and still got them a little bit.”
Bowman's Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron also crashed into the tire barrier and demolished his No. 24 machine. Fortunately, Byron was able to climb from his crashed car and appeared to be OK.
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney also got loose in turn three and slammed into the outside tire barrier. The rear end of Blaney’s No. 12 was badly damaged and forced his team to go to its backup car during the session.
Blaney said the Charlotte road course is a bit of a hybrid between Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International, the only road courses NASCAR's top series has raced on since 1989.
"We try a lot of things we do at normal road courses to see if they work," he said. "This place is kind of an in-between of Sonoma and Watkins Glen, where it's really fast in some parts, but the inner workings of this track are really slow and you have to be really smooth, so there's just a lot that the team can learn and the driver can learn."
In five career road course starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, Blaney has two top-10 finishes with a career-best finish of eighth at Watkins Glen last August.
Erik Jones, winner at Daytona two weeks ago, also went for a spin but didn’t hit anything and was able to continue. A total of 14 drivers were expected to test Tuesday after 16 others tested the Charlotte roval on July 10. Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest lap during July 10's test at 106.1 mph.
The Bank of America Roval 400 is scheduled for Sunday, September 30. Tickets are on sale with kids' tickets starting at just $10. Click here for more information. The 400-kilometer race will be the longest road course event on the NASCAR schedule.