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NASCAR Playoffs: Aric Almirola’s fate rests on the roval

We asked Tampa’s NASCAR driver for his feelings on one of the series’ most unique tracks.

The fate of Aric Almirola’s season hinges on his performance at one of NASCAR’s most unique circuits: the roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The track mixes part of Charlotte’s traditional overall with a road course for a 17-turn layout that was added to the series last year.

RELATED: NASCAR Playoffs: What changes for Tampa’s Aric Almirola?

This year, Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 will determine whether Almirola advances to the next round of NASCAR’s playoffs. The Hillsborough High alumnus enters three points ahead of the cut-off line.

With so much at stake, the Tampa Bay Times asked Almirola about the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford about the roval this week in Ask Aric — a periodic feature where the NASCAR playoff contender shares his thoughts on racing, the season and his hometown.

What do you like about racing at the Roval? How is it different than you thought it’d be when NASCAR decided to add it to the schedule?

In this Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Kurt Busch drives his car from the oval onto the road course during a test of the roval course at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. [CHUCK BURTON | AP]

I like racing at the roval just because it’s a challenge. As a race car driver, I enjoy the challenge of being able to adapt to a new circuit, a new race car, a new set of circumstances, and so the roval is definitely that. And all the intricacies of the roval…

Multiple corners at the roval are banked the wrong way. Every other race track on the circuit, when we go into the corner, if there’s any banking at all, the banking is going the direction of the corner to help the car stick to the corner. But there’s multiple corners at the roval that are actually off-cambered, and the banking is going the opposite direction that you would want it to, to help the car stick to the race track.

Then once you get out of the infield section and you transition back onto the oval, you’ve got to be able to adapt to that and get your car to handle on that, as well. So it’s very challenging. It’s very technical. I enjoy that challenge.

As far as how I thought it was different when I originally thought about running the roval, I thought it was going to be a little bit more straightforward. I thought it was going to be a little bit more involved with the oval. But the oval is really just a small part. I think there’s 17 total corners, and the oval’s only two of those 17 corners. So when I thought about it…I thought it’d be the oval with a couple of turns. But it’s really a road course with a couple of oval turns.