Mario Andretti Prepares to Pace the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 Field

HHP/David Tulis photo

Motorsports legend Mario Andretti gave Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL™ his personal stamp of approval on Sunday.

Andretti, the only driver to win the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One championship, is serving as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400. He’ll lead the field out to the 17-turn, 2.28-mile track aboard a Toyota Camry XSE pace car.

“They did everything right, for sure,” Andretti said. “It’s always challenging to create a road course that’s got good technical flow when you’re somewhat limited with the geography. Quite honestly, I’ve never been too much of a fan of road courses inside an oval. I’m a fan of this one.”

Andretti took some of the first laps on the ROVAL™ in 2017 and made suggestions for improvements, many of which were implemented into the current layout.

“I can’t take too much credit for the course itself,” Andretti said. “All the ingredients were there. The only thing I suggested is at the time they didn’t have any of the chicanes, (and) I felt to create more action (was to install chicanes) – and also they needed to slow the cars down somewhat before Turn 3. That would invite some overtaking, and as you can see they put a chicane there last year, but it was too fast, and they needed more hard braking.

“I like the way they reacted for this year, and they put in a proper corner, and that’s going to be interesting. It could be the point where they’ll have the most action – and maybe some action some of the drivers don’t really want.

“They did the best job they could have expected. The buzz is out there, and I think the drivers like it.”

Andretti drove the ROVAL™ in a high-performance car to test the race track in March of 2017, and he put the car and the track through their paces. And he clearly had a good time.

“Hell yes,” Andretti said. “They said, ‘Take it easy.’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah, right.’ I don’t think the dealer was all that pleased because the brakes were smoking pretty good.

“It was a good way to really evaluate what was going on with that car.”

After spending part of Sunday morning visiting suites atop the grandstands, Andretti was also impressed with the view race fans have.

“I’m looking around, and the view of this road course is phenomenal,” Andretti said. “I don’t know where else you could see as much of the race track as you do here, being a road course.

“I just had a chance to visit some of the suites, and I don’t care where you are, even in the grandstands, you see at least three-quarters of it. That’s a job well done.”


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