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Is it Time for NASCAR to Leave the Charlotte Roval Behind?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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As time has gone on, fan sentiment towards the Charlotte Roval has turned from excitement and intrigue to at best apathetic and at worst hostile. It has gotten to the point where Dale Earnhardt Jr. reportedly noted that “The Roval is going away” in 2024. Why would or should NASCAR leave the Charlotte Roval?

Does the Roval Serve Its’ Purpose?

Let’s take a trip in the way back machine to 2018 when the Roval was first added to the schedule. Back during this time, the Gen-6 car was on the track. The 1.5-mile product was not great, but the road course product was awesome.

During this time, there was only two road course on the schedule with none in the Playoffs, and NASCAR was in the midst of a five-year agreement with 23 race tracks guaranteeing them race dates through the 2020 season. Therefore, NASCAR decided to improvise and build a road course in the infield of the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the first races there were well received.

Now, fast forward to 2023. The intermediate track product is the best it ever has been, and the road course product is the worst it has been in years. On top of that, Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the best race tracks for the Next-Gen car, and the schedule is far more flexible, allowing for more road courses to be added in recent years.

It is a legitimate question whether or not the Roval serves the purpose it once did. Honestly, it looks more like a temporary solution to a 2018 problem in hindsight. Therefore, why keep the Roval if NASCAR has more flexibility to add more road courses to the schedule?

The Racing Product

The biggest issue is the road course racing product. It simply is not received as well by fans as it was in 2018 when the Roval was introduced. On top of that, the Roval is just not a perfectly designed road course because it fits within the specific template of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

If NASCAR absolutely HAS to have a road course in the Playoffs, then is the Roval the best option? It is worth noting that with the Next-Gen car, there have been good road course races. The Chicago Street Race, both COTA races, and 2022 at Watkins Glen have been good just to name a few.

Now, the Roval could produce its’ best-ever race to finish the Round of 12 in 2023 and throw this whole argument out of the water. Then again, fan sentiment is very low for the Charlotte Roval as of right now.

Why Keep the Roval?

The main argument for keeping the Roval is to keep a road course in the Playoffs. However, this is far from the only option for a road course in the Playoffs as we mentioned. Why not move a race like Watkins Glen a couple of weeks back to put it in the Playoffs?

Therefore, unless this is the absolute only option for a road course, there is zero purpose for the Roval. All it is doing is taking a race date away from one of the best 1.5-mile tracks on the calendar.

The Roval was an experiment that seems to have run its’ course if there is any chance of another road course in the Playoffs. Then again, given the racing product, does there even need to be a road course in the Playoffs? Therefore, the Roval’s place in the schedule just does not seem to serve the purpose it once did, unless there are no other road course options.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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