"It's a Very Unforgiving Place" - Chase Elliott Discusses the Charlotte Roval

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This weekend, the Cup Series playoffs will continue at the Charlotte Roval.  It is the final race of the Round of 12, meaning four drivers will be eliminated from the Cup Series playoffs.  Chase Elliott is one of the favorites to win, having already won the last two races on the road course. 


Elliott is known for his road course prowess.  His average finish at Cup road courses is the best in the series, and it’s not even close.  His 5.72 is far beyond a distant 2nd-placed Kurt Busch (12.09).  While the sample size is small at the Charlotte Roval (there have only been 3 prior races there), it seems to be a place that Elliott truly shines. 


When asked why the Roval seemed to suit him so well, Elliott said, “We’ve had a good road course package for the last few years.  For whatever reason we kind of hit on a good package at Charlotte.  They’re all similar, but we tweak things here and there and landed in a really good spot for the last couple of races.” 


The Roval has presented it’s share of challenges to drivers, including some surprises.  For example, Kyle Busch has an average finish of 33.00, one of the worst of all current Cup drivers.  Elliott described what makes the Roval such a challenge, saying “It’s a very unique track, very different.  They shoved a road course into an area that wasn’t necessarily made for a road course.  I think the reason it’s been entertaining is the track is in a very confined area.  […] you don’t have a lot of run-off room for mistakes.  There’s just nowhere to go.  It’s a very unforgiving place, and has created a lot of entertainment.”


That lack of room is not always an issue at more traditional road courses, says Elliott. “For instance, turn one at Charlotte [Roval] versus turn one at Watkins Glen - you overshoot turn one at Watkins Glen and you have a football field there to figure out your problem, and correct it and go on down the road.  Whereas at Charlotte, if you overcook it in there, you’re going to hit something and that’s really just the bottom line.”


Elliott is no stranger to the perils of the Roval’s first turn.  In 2019, Elliott went too hard into turn one and ended up driving right into wall.  He was able to rally back and eventually won the race.  Reflecting on that experience, he said, “It was a wild day for sure.  […] I kind of thought our day was over, I just barely had enough time to get back up front, [and I] got super fortunate.  Obviously the car wasn’t hurt too bad, that was probably the biggest thing of the day – the angle I hit, the amount of barrier that was soft at that particular spot.  It wasn’t like I planned all of that.  Obviously a mistake, a very large mistake, and fortunately it was not bad enough to end the run.  So yeah, a wild, wild one.”


While Chase has every reason to be confident coming into this weekend, he still only remains nine points above the cutoff.  A good run will be paramount to a spot in the Round of 8.  To his credit, Elliott was in good spirits.  “If you ever get to that last race, it’s a cutoff race anyway, so you better enjoy the moment.”


“You better like having your back against the wall and have to perform because if you ever want to win, that’s how its going to be.  I’m looking forward to it.”


Written by Adam Carabine