With a month before the start of the 2017 NASCAR season, Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) has announced two tracks will receive a new surface during the year.
Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark broke the news that the track would get a repave on Wednesday. The track’s current surface had been in use since its reconfiguration in 1997; the old and worn asphalt proved to be popular among fans and drivers, generating high speeds, exciting racing and some of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.
However, the surface is also the second-oldest in NASCAR. Track officials remarked the success of the surface, despite its age, can be attributed to warm Georgia weather.
The track is expected to be repaved after the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 5.
“Many of NASCAR’s greatest moments have occurred on this racing surface, and I have no doubt the world’s best drivers will give it a proper final event before the new surface comes to life,” Clark stated.
In addition to being repaved, Atlanta’s sister track, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, will undergo a “reprofiling” before the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 weekend on April 9.
The news was announced Friday. The slick surface, which was last repaved in 2001, suffered from drainage problems in 2016 that resulted in delays at the NASCAR and IndyCar races. Despite its popularity among drivers, the issues caused as a result of rain effectively required a change. NASCAR driver and NBC analyst Parker Kligerman also went as far as to suggest a complete change in track configuration.
The track layout will also undergo changes. The first two turns will decrease in banking 24 to 20°, while the track in that region will widen from 60 to 80 feet.
“The fans are why we are doing this,” TMS president Eddie Gossage stated. “The old pavement no longer dried as quickly because through the years of use and weather, the asphalt became porous, kind of like a sponge. Even if we only had a brief shower it was taking us far too long to get the track dried in order to get on to the racing.”
The track’s drainage system will also be reworked and will operate in a similar manner to Kentucky Speedway. The new surface will be created with an asphalt mix like that at Kentucky and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, giving it an “aged” appearance.
The repave will be performed by Lane Construction, who also repaved tracks like Kansas and Daytona. TMS hopes to have it completed before March 1 to allow Goodyear to host a test prior to the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Featured image courtesy of Atlanta Motor Speedway