NASCAR: drivers’ pleas have Atlanta Motor Speedway rethinking repave schedule
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes the green flag for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Atlanta Motor Speedway track officials were set to have their track repaved after Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. But urging for several drivers have those same track officials rethinking their plans.
“I can’t really say the status has changed, but it’s caused us to think about what we’re doing,” Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith said Sunday, prior to the race. “We’ve looked at the track a lot, of course, over the years, and we feel like we’ve gotten about three more years out of the life of the track right now, so the challenges are still there on keeping the track raceable and making it something we can have a race on today and have a quality race. But definitely have heard from the drivers saying that they like this gritty surface, and so we will look at it after the race today and be able to make a better determination of what we’ll have to do, going forward.”
Speedway Motorsports Inc. is the parent company of Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is among the drivers who have publicly asked for a delay.
“Well if we ask @MarcusSMI
nicely, maybe he will put off paving it for another year or two,” Earnhardt (@DaleJr
AMS was last paved in 1997 and its current surface is one of the oldest on the Cup Series schedule. Drivers, generally, prefer the “character” of older racing surfaces. On freshly-paved, smooth tracks, cars get more grip and are, generally, easier to drive.
Recent repaves, though, including one at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, has included efforts to give surfaces back some of that character, as opposed to a typical new asphalt finish, through different aggregates and grinding.
According to Smith, whenever Atlanta is repaved, decisions relating to aggregates and methods used will be based on the repave scheduled at Texas Motor Speedway, another SMI track, in Fort Worth. TMS also is scheduled for a repave this year.
Atlanta Motor Speedway hosts all three national divisions of NASCAR once yearly, during a tripleheader weekend early in the season.