SMI boss happy with Roval debut but wants to keep it unique to CMS

Image by Nigel Kinrade/LAT

SMI boss happy with Roval debut but wants to keep it unique to CMS


SMI boss happy with Roval debut but wants to keep it unique to CMS


Marcus Smith believes the inaugural road course race at Charlotte Motor Speedway lived up to the hype.

“It was really an amazing day, a three‑year journey to get here, and everything just kind of culminated today and throughout this week,” the CEO and president of Speedway Motorsports Inc. said Sunday night. “I think everything that we saw on track, the competition was really phenomenal. The track was very raceable, and we saw cars go two wide, three wide on a couple of occasions where there’s a lot of concern about the width of the track and being able to race without a lot of red flags.

“I think this was another one of those amazing, memorable moments for — certainly for me and I think for NASCAR. When you think about great moments, the first time we ever turned on lights here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, ‘One Hot Night’ for the All‑Star, and then today the inaugural Bank of America Roval 400, I think for me, it really lived up to the hype.”

Ryan Blaney wound up in victory lane after leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson crashed in the last chicane. Kyle Larson also charged on the final lap to grab one more spot that ended up putting him in the playoffs when the final transfer spot came down to a three-way tie.

Charlotte served as the first elimination race in the playoffs. It came down to the final lap. There was also a 15-car wreck in Turn 1 with six laps to go, started by leader Brad Keselowski locking up the tires and missing the corner.

Of the finish, Smith said it wasn’t necessarily what he envisioned at the start of the day. However, he found it exciting and said the roar from the fans told him it was a moment many will remember for a long time to come.

“I think it was certainly more than I had expected and hoped for in terms of the excitement for our fans,” Smith said.

The Xfinity Series also competed on the road course in what was the second race of its first round of the postseason. Chase Briscoe earned his first career win.

Image by John Harrelson/LAT

CMS spent millions to make the road course a reality, giving the speedway a third unique event. The facility hosts the annual All-Star Race every May followed by the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. However, that doesn’t mean you should expect to see more road courses developed on other SMI oval properties, according to Smith.

“I’m not looking at any of our properties to add a road course into, to ‘Rovalizing,’ as you said,” remarked Smith. “I feel like this is unique to Charlotte, and we’ve got other speedways out there that produce their own unique action.

“Plus, on top of that, I’m really excited about all the things I’m hearing about next year’s racing with the new aero and power package. I think it’s going to be fantastic for the whole sport.”