CONCORD, N.C — Sixteen Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams took part in the first of two test sessions on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course ahead of the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Sept. 30.
Drivers got their first crack at the updated layout after the track unveiled that and the race distance for the first-ever road course featured in the NASCAR Playoffs. The first-ever 400-kilometer, 109-lap Bank of America ROVAL 400 will be the longest road-course race in NASCAR, with a track length of 2.28 miles and 17 turns.
PHOTOS at NASCAR.com: All access: Charlotte road course test action-packed
There was much to be learned and many takeaways drivers were buzzing about throughout the session. A slight change to the curbing of the backstretch chicane was even made during the morning session, which extended the test to 6 p.m. instead of the originally scheduled 9-5 stint.
“How many different opportunities we have to bust our butt around this race track,” noticed Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “It’s very demanding. There are some blind corners, which are fun. A lot of surface changes, as you can imagine. There’s parking lots and an existing road course in here and we’re coming in and out of parking lots and on the old road course and different sections, so the road itself is pretty rough.
“You’ve got to be on your toes,” Johnson added. “There’s a big penalty if you heir on the side of too much aggression.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, picked up on what spots will be most critical for the race.
“The places that you can gain and lose the most time are the places that you’re going really, really fast or really, really slow,” Newman said. “Trying to get those things as clean as you possibly can is probably the most important part. The infield part of the course is a challenge, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think there is as much time to be made there as some of the fast or stop-and-go stuff.”
The big incident of the day occurred just past 10 a.m. when Bubba Wallace slammed into the tire barriers heading into the entrance of Turn 1. After incurring heavy damage on the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports and with no backup car available, Wallace and the crew packed up early and was unable to continue.
Chase Elliott also found trouble early in the session after the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet had a mechanical issue. The team was able to make a quick fix and return to the track for the rest of the test.
Michael McDowell looped it during the late afternoon session, spinning the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford off-course.
The next test session for Monster Energy Series drivers will be on July 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET as fans are welcome to to attend the event.
Below are the list of drivers who participated in Tuesday’s session, along with those who will take part on July 17:
July 10: Martin Truex Jr.; Jimmie Johnson; Chase Elliott; Kevin Harvick; Denny Hamlin; Daniel Suarez; Brad Keselowski; Paul Menard; Chris Buescher; Kasey Kahne; Michael McDowell; Ricky Stenhouse Jr; Ryan Newman; Kurt Busch; Kyle Larson; Bubba Wallace;
July 17: Kyle Busch; Erik Jones; Ryan Blaney; Joey Logano; Aric Almirola; Alex Bowman; William Byron; A.J. Allmendinger; Ty Dillon; Jamie McMurray; Austin Dillon; Trevor Bayne; Clint Bowyer; Alex Bowman; Chris Buescher