Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger expect plenty of excitement when the Charlotte road course sees its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race action in September.
“There’s going to be some areas where we’re going to wad some stuff up, and being in the playoffs it’s going to be quite the race,” Logano said Tuesday. “We’ll see how this thing goes; it’s going to be interesting.”
Allmendinger said the infield road course portion of the layout is going to race like a short track. And that’s where he sees contact occurring.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of contact, for sure,” Allmendinger said. “Through the infield, it’s fairly narrow.”
Logano and Allmendinger were two of the 14 drivers who participated in the second day of an open test (last Tuesday being the previous one) for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The first part of the day saw multiple incidents, giving credibility to Logano and Allmendinger’s expectations.
Alex Bowman spun going into Turn 3 and hit the tire barrier with the nose of his Chevrolet. Fortunately, the damage was minor and his Hendrick Motorsports team just needed to change the splitter for him to resume testing.
Ryan Blaney was not as lucky, needing his backup car after spinning around also in Turn 3. Blaney hit the tire barriers with the rear end of his No. 12.
Erik Jones didn’t make any contact, but he too spun in the same area.
And William Byron had a big hit when he had a brake failure going into Turn 1. The No. 24 Chevrolet did not turn left for the corner, and Byron slammed head-on into the tire barrier. The accident ended Byron’s day.
“It’s just an off-camber, downhill entry to Turn 3, and that makes it pretty tough,” Logano said of the Turn 3 and 4 area being treacherous. “The corner itself, you’re turning to the right, there’s no banking and you’re going downhill.
“The cars are just super, super loose there. It’s a pretty sketchy corner. There’s a few sketchy spots; that’s probably one of the sketchiest, if not the sketchiest.
“Overall, I think the racetrack is fun. It’s different than any other road course we go to, which I don’t think is a bad thing in any way.”
Logano says there is no part of the Charlotte road course that transfers from what drivers are used to seeing at Watkins Glen or Sonoma.
“There’s passing zones probably from (Turns) 17 to 1,” Logano said. “Maybe (Turn) 4 to 5, possibly. (Turns) 5 to 6, there’s passing zone, and 7 to 8 maybe sneak your nose in there. The bus stop in the back, that’s going to be a tough spot to make passes.
“There’ll be plenty of opportunity to pass, for sure. But you’re going to have to get the pass done and move on, because two-wide is going to kill your lap time and you’re going to lose touch with the cars around you.”
Allmendinger, known for his road racing skills, also conceded he’ll have no advantage when the series takes the green flag, particularly since everyone is getting the chance to test the course. That combined with the uniqueness of the layout has Allmendinger looking forward to the race.
“I love the challenge of it, for sure,” he said.