By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule was finally unveiled during the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder. One of the more notable changes is that the October playoff race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will change from using the 1.5-mile oval configuration to the 13-turn, 2.4-mile ‘roval’ configuration. One driver who will not compete on the roval but is interested to see how the racing turns out is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Earnhardt announced his retirement from full-time competition earlier this season. The 42-year-old driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Nationwide Patriotic Chevrolet SS has earned only one victory in the Busch Grand National (now Xfinity) Series on a road course, Watkins Glen in 1999. Earnhardt’s best finish on a road course in the Monster Energy Cup Series was third at Watkins Glen International in 2003 and Sonoma Raceway in 2014.
Despite not being a fan of the idea, Earnhardt is looking at the race with an open mind,
“I’m not a big fan of the roval. But you’ve got to be open-minded to it because what if it does do really well? I anticipate it will be more spread out than what we see at Sonoma and The Glen. Once these cars come out of the road course and go onto the track, they’re just going to distance from each other and so I don’t know, really, what a race like that is going to look like for stock cars. But, they’re going to try it. We’ve got a lot of other race tracks that are rovals as well, and if it happens to work, there are opportunities for them other tracks to do the same.”
As to whether the roval will be a successful race, everyone will find out Sept. 30, 2018. In the more immediate future, Earnhardt will focus on Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 where he hopes he can finally conquer NASCAR’s longest race of the season.