CONCORD, N.C. (Aug. 21, 2019) – One of NASCAR’s most highly anticipated weekends will feature arguably the greatest race car driver of all time leading the field to green on Sept. 29. Mario Andretti – a motorsports legend like no other – will serve as the honorary pace car driver for the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Andretti will pilot the Toyota Camry XSE pace car before the green flag for the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on the ROVAL™. The world-renowned racer is the only driver to win the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the F1 World Championship in a storied career that spanned five decades across six continents.
The acclaimed driver is no stranger to Charlotte Motor Speedway or the ROVAL™.
Andretti raced in Charlotte’s fall race on the 1.5-mile oval in 1967, finishing 27th in a Holman-Moody car. The 79-year-old Nazareth, Pennsylvania, native also visited Charlotte Motor Speedway in March 2017 for a test drive around the ROVAL™.
"When Marcus Smith was creating the ROVAL™, he invited me to check out the improvements to the infield road course," Andretti said. "It was such a fun course to drive and the more I drove it the more I got into a rhythm, but I knew it would be challenging to the NASCAR competitors with the elevation change and transition from road course to oval.
"After last year’s successful playoff debut for the course, I’m honored that Marcus would ask me to return to lead the field to green for this year’s Bank of America ROVAL™ 400."
"Mario played an instrumental role in helping make the ROVAL™ into the showpiece it is today," said Marcus Smith, the president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. "He test-drove a high-performance sports car on the course as we were in the process of figuring out what the ROVAL™ could become.
"Even with me in the passenger seat, he hit 177 miles per hour, which is pretty incredible – but it was like a casual Sunday afternoon drive for Mario."
After the test, Andretti suggested adding chicanes on the frontstretch and backstretch to slow the cars down and create additional passing zones.
"I liked the higher speeds so I was hesitant, but after hearing it from someone of his caliber and expertise, it made even more sense to create chicanes on our straightaways," Smith said. "Mario’s forward thinking and his unparalleled vision for creating a spectacle contributed to the incredible finish we had last year with Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson."
Birthed in 2018, the ROVAL™ is a 17-turn, 2.28-mile course that combines Charlotte Motor Speedway’s legendary quad-oval with a world-class infield road course. The second running of the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 will take place on Sunday, Sept. 29, and serve as the cut-off race for Round 1 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The race will be televised live on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET.
— Charlotte Motor Speedway —