Racing legend Mario Andretti has been announced as the honorary pace car driver for the Cup Series race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on Sept. 29.
The Indy 500 and Daytona 500 champion will pilot a Toyota Camry XSE pace car around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course and lead the field to the green flag for the second Cup race on the circuit.
Andretti was part of the development of the track before its debut last year.
He visited Charlotte Motor Speedway in March 2017 for a test drive around the Roval.
“When (Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO) Marcus Smith was creating the Roval, he invited me to check out the improvements to the infield road course,” Andretti said in a press release. “It was such a fun course to drive and the more I drove it the more I got into a rhythm, but I knew it would be challenging to the NASCAR competitors with the elevation change and transition from road course to oval.
“After last year’s successful playoff debut for the course, I’m honored that Marcus would ask me to return to lead the field to green for this year’s Bank of America Roval 400.”
After the test, Andretti suggested adding chicanes on the frontstretch and backstretch to slow the cars down and create additional passing zones.
“I liked the higher speeds so I was hesitant, but after hearing it from someone of his caliber and expertise, it made even more sense to create chicanes on our straightaways,” Smith said in a press release. “Mario’s forward thinking and his unparalleled vision for creating a spectacle contributed to the incredible finish we had last year with Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.”
Andretti made one start at Charlotte in his racing career, competing in the fall 1967 race on the 1.5-mile oval. He finished 27th.