Jeff Burton believes the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval course is going to be a “really, really difficult race track” but that isn’t necessary a bad thing.
Burton and the rest of the NBC broadcast crew spent nearly half an hour Thursday morning riding around the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval course, getting familiar prior to their broadcasts this weekend of the Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races.
Burton, a former NASCAR driver and now TV analyst, had also driven the course previously before its final configuration.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a really, really difficult race track,” Burton said following the group’s ride. “Turn 1 is going to be hard, Turn 2. I don’t see anything that is going to be easy.
“I think the easier part of the race track will be oval (Turns) 1 and 2 and oval (Turns) 3 and 4. Everything else is going to be very difficult. It’s a very technical course with cars that aren’t. What I mean is they are big and heavy and have a lot of power.
“It’s going to be a damn challenge.”
Burton believes that’s OK because NASCAR racing “is supposed to be hard.”
“It just looks like a major challenge to me,” he said. “If I was driving, I’d be really nervous of trying to make the appropriate lap times I need to make without making a mistake.”
If Sunday’s Bank of America 400 took place three months ago, Burton said he could see some drivers just deciding to “ride around off pace.”
“But when you put that many good cars out there and there is so much on the line (with the cutoff of Round 1 in the Cup series playoffs), there are people who can’t afford to have bad races and there are so many people who a ‘good race’ might not even be good enough, there are just so many different scenarios competing at the same time,” Burton said.
Burton said he has no idea what the actual race may turn out to be but has a hard time believing it won’t be a fun race to watch.
“I don’t believe there will be 10 cars running when the race is over; I don’t believe that it’s going to be quite the calamity many have projected,” he said.
“I do think that as hard as it looks to me and with so much on the line, people are going to make mistakes. People aren’t going to be allowed to take it easy and race within their limits. Some people are going to need to get outside of their limits to get done what needs to get done.
“To have a difficult race at this time in the playoffs just changes the game.”
Despite the unusual layout of the Roval, which combines most of the oval along with an infield road course with a 35-foot elevation change, Burton still thinks drivers who have had success on road courses will shine this weekend.
“I think it is more like a typical road course. The easiest part I think is oval (Turns) 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. I think they are non-issues. So, then it becomes 100-percent who is the best road racer,” he said.
“That infield is way-technical and the chicanes are way-technical. Those are road-racing skills. So even though we are at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I think it’s still a road course.
“I don’t see anything about this race track that says to me, ‘I won the Coke 600 three times and I’m going to Charlotte and run good.’ There is nothing – nothing – about it the same.”
And take a virtual lap around the Charlotte Roval with the No. 78 Toyota Camry of Martin Truex Jr., courtesy of NASCAR Heat 3, which you can order now:
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