Charlotte Motor Speedway announced changes to the backstretch chicane for its Roval that are intended to create a wider zone to enhance passing and slow the cars through that section.
The chicane’s original layout was 32 feet wide at its widest point. The new version will be 54 feet at its widest point and feature additional runoff areas that were not available last year.
The new chicane is meant to require heavier braking and a sharper entry. Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said that cars were going about 130 mph through that section of the course last year.
“This is all about a very hard braking zone, a hard real left turn and another right,” Smith said Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. “It’s slow in but fast off. We think that’s going to set the cars up for a really great frontstretch chicane as well and give us a chance for more side-by-side racing.”
That backstretch chicane was one that went through some change last year. Kyle Larson was among the first to cut the chicane in testing last summer, leading officials to put a tire barrier out further after consulting with several drivers. After Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones crashed into the tire barrier during practice on race weekend, series officials adjusted the angle of the tire barrier.
Larson was among those consulted before this change.
“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 in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “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 Sunday that the Xfinity race will be 12 laps longer. That will make the race 67 laps. Stage 1 will be 20 laps. Stage 2 will be 20 laps. The final stage will be 27 laps.
Last year’s 55-lap Xfinity race was 1 hour, 32 minutes. Chase Briscoe won that race.