NASCAR adjusts tire barrier after hard crashes on new CMS layout

CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR adjusted the angle of a tire barrier at Charlotte Motor Speedway prior to the Cup series' final practice Saturday so drivers would have more racing room at the exit of the backstretch chicane.

Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones destroyed the front of their cars after getting out of control in the chicane of the new roval -- a road-course-type layout -- and smashing through the barrier. They were uninjured, but both have to go to backup cars.

The chicane is designed to scrub off speed entering Turn 3 of the oval portion of the track. Speeds needed to be slower to help with tire wear, as the tires must provide grip on the infield and oval portions.

NASCAR planned to evaluate the angle and length of the barrier Saturday during the final Cup practice and the Xfinity Series race. There were no crashes during the final practice.

Marcus Smith, president of track owner Speedway Motorsports Inc., said he was open to moving the wall wherever NASCAR wanted it, but also that the drivers likely will adjust.

"There was feedback [after testing in July] from drivers saying they need more of a visual reference for that exit out of the backstretch chicane, and a tire wall was the thing that everybody agreed was the right course," Smith said.

"I see a few people hitting the tire wall, and I think it's one of those things drivers are trying to go as fast as they can go, they're pushing the limits, they're finding the limits. ... They just need to get used to the track and learn it."

The first race with the adjusted barrier was the 55-lap Xfinity Series event Saturday afternoon, and the change brought mixed reviews.

Drivers liked that they had a little more forgiveness if they made a mistake, but now if the drivers used the edge of the wall as the visual to determine their racing line, they would hit the blue speed bumps that keep them from cutting the chicane.

Several cars suffered meaningful damage from hitting the speed bumps. If a driver was within 8 feet of the car in front of him, the driver had to trust the car in front not to hit the speed bumps because there was no way to see it.

"It was hard to tell how far to the right you needed to be when you were behind somebody," JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier said. "Now you might think you have plenty of room. ... I tore the left side up pretty bad and I noticed a lot of other cars did the same thing.

"It saved some carnage as far as body panels go as far as the car that hits [the bump], but it really hurt the cars second, third and fourth in line."

Veteran road racer Justin Marks said he had to start using the curb as his visual point of how to make the turn.

"It took a couple of laps to get used to, but you just pick up a new visual," Marks said. "It was just an adjustment, but it was the right thing to do.

"You don't want to put an object like that on 90 degrees of everybody. ... There were two or three [Cup] cars that got tore up that probably didn't need to."