NASCAR in Texas will look a little bit different this season after it was announced this past week that Texas Motor Speedway will be undergoing a repave and reconfiguration beginning next week, ahead of NASCAR’s April race weekend.
Work on the track is expected to begin on Monday and if everything goes to plan it should be completed by the middle of March, this according to a press release from Texas Motor Speedway.
Why the repave?
Well, the motivation came from how weather impacted the racing surface during the 2016 season. Both NASCAR weekends and the IndyCar weekend were impacted by lengthy weather delays. One of the 2016 NASCAR weekends saw it take hours to dry the racing surface after barely any rain.
The renovation will add a new layer of asphalt over the existing pavement, an expansive French drainage system on the frontstretch and backstretch, and reduce the banking in Turns 1 and 2 by four degrees. Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage spoke in the press release about what the track is doing this and what it will mean moving forward.
The fans are why we are doing this. 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. We owe it to the fans to present the best possible race track so they will be assured of seeing NASCAR and INDYCAR races even if we face some brief inclement weather. This will accomplish that goal.
With all of the good that the repave in Texas will bring, there will also be some bad, for the short-term at least.
For starters, NASCAR drivers generally don’t like when tracks undergo a repave. The repaving of a track changes the way it feels, runs, impacts cars etc. Driver have always lauded Texas for its aged racing surface, the repave will change that. With any repave there is going to be an adjustment period in the short-term for drivers and their teams.
They say they have made advances in asphalt mixes for a better initial “aged” surface. Atlanta and Texas mixes will be the same. #nascarhttps://t.co/hPGNFGniZa
With the completion of the project expected to happen in mid-March, and NASCAR coming into town at the beginning of April, there isn’t going to be time for Goodyear to do a tire test on the new racing surface.
Over the years we have seen there be some tire issues at tracks where Goodyear has made changes and had time to do the testing. While I am sure the tire provided in April is going to be a good one, I am also sure it won’t be the same tire used when NASCAR comes back to Texas later in the season after Goodyear has had time to test at the track.
At the end of the day, Texas is making some great changes to their facility. However, it might not be until the second NASCAR race at the track in 2017 that fans and drivers are able to truly appreciate those changes. Then again, if it’s raining there in April those changes will overshadow whatever challenges the new surface, configuration and tire bring to the table.