SBD/April 23, 2012/Facilities

Kansas Speedway Repaving Project Part Of Continuing Trend At NASCAR Tracks

The end of yesterday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 served as the “ceremonial ground breaking for the repaving and reconfiguration of Kansas Speedway’s 1.5 mile tri-oval that opened in 2001,” according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. The $9M project is “expected to be completed by Sept. 12, enabling NASCAR teams to test the new surface and new variable banking before they return for the Oct. 19-21 race weekend that will be highlighted by the Hollywood Casino 400, the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.” The decision to repave Kansas Speedway “after just 12 years of racing has been a hot-button issue in the NASCAR garages.” The drivers have been “near-unanimous against the repaving, saying the track has finally matured into a surface that produces multiple-groove racing and plenty of slipping and sliding between the cars.” But the Midwest’s combination of “extreme heat and extreme cold conspired to erode portions of the track, requiring extensive patchwork and tarring.” Covitz writes NASCAR is “in the midst of a repaving craze.” Kansas Speedway is the “latest of five speedways in the past two years to repave, starting with Daytona International Speedway following its pothole debacle of 2010, and including Phoenix in 2011 and Michigan and Pocono in 2012.” Ten NASCAR tracks “have undergone a repaving since 2006, and Bristol is expected to announce a reconstruction project this week.” The life span of most NASCAR tracks “is at least 20 years, but climate is a factor.” ISC Director of Engineering Martin Flugger, whose company owns Kansas Speedway and will oversee the repave, said, “The weather hasn’t been too kind to it. The asphalt is starting to get brittle, and there’s not much elasticity so the cracking is getting worse” (K.C. STAR, 4/23).

CONTINUING A TREND: ESPN.com’s David Newton noted the repavings are “a lot of change in a sport where the fans seem to resist it, as we've seen with the Chase and the new car.” It makes drivers and track promoters “nervous, particularly track promoters who hear all the reasons a track shouldn't be repaved” (ESPN.com, 4/21). In Charlotte, Jim Utter noted track repaving “seems to be all the rage this season,” and there may “very well be legitimate reasons for tracks to go through this process.” Utter noted in “almost every instance,” repaving does “not produce good racing, at least in the short term.” Utter: “For fans' sake, let's hope that record does not remain the same this year” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/22). NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick said, "I'm not a fan of tearing up any race track. I don't think they've done a good job with any of the asphalt they have put down at any of the race tracks since they have repaved" (AP, 4/22).
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