Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Stage breaks return for Charlotte Roval

For the 2023 season, NASCAR elected to remove stage breaks for road courses as they were widely criticised for ruining races flow. After five road races, however, the sanctioning body is already throwing that idea out the window for the final such event of the year.

On Tuesday, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer revealed during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that cautions between stages will return for the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval weekend on 7/8 October. The Xfinity Series races on Saturday followed by the Cup Series the next day.

Stages have been polarising since their inception in 2017. Supporters praised them for rewarding drivers with points for running at the front throughout the day while critics decried them for breaking up races with unnecessary cautions, which some felt was especially egregious at road course races which are shorter than their oval counterparts. The cautions being removed for road courses was intended as a compromise of sort, still giving out stage points at select sections but otherwise continuing the race without stoppage.

Without the breaks, the two most recent road course races at Indianapolis and Watkins Glen saw a single caution each.

Sawyer added the revival was partly to maintain consistency between all ten playoff races. Being the only road race, the Roval was the lone event in the postseason that would not have had breaks.

With two restarts guaranteed again, the procedure for the Roval was also tweaked on Tuesday as drivers must go through the chicane coming to the start/finish line. For the first five Roval races, drivers restarted on the tri-oval like they would if they raced on the 1.5-mile oval layout.