Jamie McMurray has a fantastic idea to revamp NASCAR’s All-Star Race – For The Win
Next season for NASCAR’s 2018 Bank of America 500, Charlotte Motor Speedway is ditching its traditional 1.5-mile oval and will incorporate a windy, infield road course into it, creating a 2.42-mile, 18-turn loop.
Drivers tested on the “roval” last week, and their reactions were varied. Martin Truex Jr. called it unique and crazy, Kurt Busch said it’s too slow and Jamie McMurray said the best word to describe it is “interesting.”
Along with functional track concerns, McMurray has an issue with the wonky new course being part of the playoffs. The first time drivers will actually compete on this track will be in the third playoff race in the Round of 16 – also the first elimination race.
“It shouldn’t be in the playoffs,” McMurray told For The Win while promoting McDelivery, McDonald’s new delivery service. “I would like to see them try it, but I would try it for the All-Star Race and see if it works out, if it’s a good race. I think there’s a lot of unknowns when you go to a brand-new track like that.”
Managing the unknowns is already a popular debate with Talladega Superspeedway hosting a playoff race. As the Cup Series saw a couple weeks ago during the Alabama 500, the inevitable, huge wreck has the potential to take out multiple playoff drivers. Often being in it or avoiding it comes down to chance, so some drivers, like McMurray, don’t like the unpredictable track being on the 10-race playoff schedule.
McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet was among the 26 of 40 cars that did not finish the Alabama 500. Although he was one of the 12 playoff drivers to advance out of the Round of 16, he was eliminated Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
“I think the playoffs are about seeing the guys that have earned that right over the first 26 races to race it out,” McMurray said. “And at a track like Talladega or possibly the unknowns of going into a road course for the first time, in my opinion, that’s not the way that you should determine a champion.”
After testing Charlotte’s roval, Busch suggested dropping a couple of the turns to make the track faster and the race more exciting. Along the same lines, McMurray said the number of turns will almost have to shrink to avoid a terribly long race.
According to the track, the 2018 Bank of America 500 is set to be 130 laps and 500 kilometers – not miles. During the tests, McMurray said a good lap time was 95 seconds and predicted drivers would eventually fall off to around 98 seconds. That means the length of the race will be nearly three and a half hours, without considering guaranteed cautions or potential stops extending it.
For McMurray, it all comes back to trying out the course for the first time at an exhibition event like the All-Star Race, which is also significantly shorter in length at about 105 miles. It’s also held at the Charlotte track anyway.
“(The roval has) really no forgiveness, so I don’t know,” he said. “If you’re racing for a championship, the unknowns that are gonna go into that are scary, and you’re not going to know until you race.
“It’s just so much different when you get everybody out there and when there’s actually points on the line. It’s a different environment.”