Atlanta Motor Speedway should go ahead with repave
On Tuesday morning, Dale Earnhardt Jr. linked the news, via Twitter, that Atlanta Motor Speedway is postponing it repaving for at least a year. What’s the point?
Okay, I realize putting off the repave is the answer to a plea by NASCAR drivers that began when AMS officials announced the scheduling of a track-repave following the 2017 race weekend that culminated in the March 5 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. From the time of the announcement through the Atlanta race weekend, some of NASCAR’s biggest named petitioned track officials and higher-ups at Speedway Motorsprots Inc., the parent company of Atlanta Motor Speedway, to put off the repaving for a year to get one final race on the old worn-out surface.
But, really, what’s the point?
After the announcement immediately following the Atlanta race weekend that, as a result of drivers’ pleas, track officials were considering postponing the repave, I made a blog post in this space that such a delay would just delay the inevitable, that a repave needs to happen in the near future, so just go ahead and get it over with. I still feel that way.
Judging by Earnhardt’s tweet and the wording of the track’s confirmation of the delay, a repave in 2018 isn’t set in stone. According to track officials, after next year’s NASCAR race weekend at the track, repaving options would be revisited. Really?!?
I, by no means, have a crystal ball, but this is what I see happening. Talks about the needed repave will pick up steam, again, early next year, and, again, these same drivers will try to urge the powers that be to put off the repave, yet, another year to get, yet, another race in on the old surface. When will it stop?
In case you were unaware, engineers, i.e. experts, recommended AMS be repaved three years ago. So, we’re talking about a track that’s already three years overdue for a repave, and we’re going to wait at least one more year. Really?!?
Also, I don’t buy the driver’s arguments of better racing on old surfaces and bad racing on new surfaces. For one, these tracks aren’t being repaved the same way they used to. The recent repave at my home track of Kentucky Speedway is proof of that. A different aggregate and methods like grinding results in the maintaining at least some of the character of the old surface.
Besides, has racing at Atlanta in recent years really been so exciting we want to hand onto it for another year or two? Not in my book. I’m not saying that the Atlanta race has been the worst on the schedule the last few years, but it hasn’t been exactly edge-of-your-seat exciting either. When were the last great races at Atlanta? If you ask me, they came in the very early-200s, just a few years after the last repave in 1997.
So, what’s the point here? Are we waiting until the track falls apart and we have to wait hours for a track to be dried several more hours after rains last fell from the sky because of all those weepers? And for what? To get a year or two more of mediocre racing out of the old track surface?
Before next year’s race weekend, the track is expected to seal the surface sufficiently enough to keep it from falling apart. I’m thinking that, alone, should tell track officials that maybe it’s time to just suck it up and repave.
Just suck it up and repave, already!