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May 23, 2017

Hitting the road: Charlotte’s 2018 playoff race to include infield road course

RELATED: 2018 schedule released | Key changes | Official release

TRACKS RESPOND: Chicagoland | Richmond | Indy | Las Vegas

For the first time since its debut in 2004, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will include a road course in the 10-race championship-determining format in 2018.

Included as part of Tuesday’s 2018 national series schedule announcement, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s playoff race, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 30, will include use of the track’s infield road course.

The 2018 playoffs will consist of four races contested on 1.5-mile intermediate tracks (Las Vegas, Kansas, Texas, Homestead-Miami), two 1-mile venues (Dover, Phoenix), two short-track stops (Richmond, Martinsville), and one superspeedway (Talladega) in addition to the Charlotte road course.

MORE: Date changes for 2018 | Reactions

Driver AJ Allmendinger tested on the road course earlier this year.

“Here’s the deal … I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said during the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour in January. “I thought it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.

“You can bring something new to the schedule and something new if it was done. I’m all for it. I’m probably biased toward that. It’s kind of like the new (stage) format. Change can be good and it can be a little scary. We have to see how it plays out. But could it be successful? I think it would be a fantastic race and something the fans could truly enjoy.”

Allmendinger, driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing, has one career win in the series and it came at Watkins Glen, which along with Sonoma Raceway make up the only two road-course stops currently on the Monster Energy Series schedule.

Use of the road course will increase the individual lap distance from 1.5 miles to approximately 2.4 miles. That change means the race will consist of fewer than the 334 laps that currently make up the race distance for a 500-mile event.