Charlotte Motor Speedway has announced changes to the backstretch chicane for the road course races this fall.
The original layout for the inaugural NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races was 32 feet wide (at its widest point). With the change to its widest point, the chicane will now measure 54 feet wide and also feature additional runoff areas for drivers.
In its new release, CMS says it will “create additional passing opportunities and more side-by-side action.” Last year, drivers struggled to get through the chicane with numerous accidents occurring in practice. During the race, other drivers discovered it was easier to try and navigate the chicane as straight as possible.
“The Bank of America Roval 400 is all about excitement and creating memorable moments for our fans,” said Marcus Smith, the president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. “Having our backstretch chicane upgraded will give drivers an additional opportunity to go for a season-making or season-breaking pass like we saw on the frontstretch chicane last year. Every turn matters on the Roval.”
The course will continue to be 2.28 miles and 17 turns. Construction on the changes is expected to be complete by early August. To accommodate more space for the updates, officials have moved back parts of the inside wall near what is Turn 3 of the oval track.
Input on the new layout came from drivers Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, and Justin Allgaier as well as former Formula 1 drivers Alex Wurz and Max Papis.
“My hat’s off to Marcus and the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway for talking with drivers and industry experts as they work to further improve the Roval,” Larson said. “The changes to the backstretch look like they will help create an additional passing zone and make it that much more exciting for the fans. After last year’s wild finish, I’ll take every possible opportunity to gain track position and earn some points.”
Track officials also announced that the Xfinity Series race distance scheduled for Sept. 28 has been increased. It will now be 67 laps instead of the 55 run last year.