By admin | November 11, 2011
By Richard Allen
The resurfacing of tracks almost always leads to less than exciting racing in the race or races immediately following the paving. New asphalt provides equal grip, or lack thereof, on all parts of the track which usually causes drivers to simply take the shortest route around the speedway to record the fastest lap times. Typically, that means single-file parade riding around the bottom of the track with little or no passing and little or no excitement is to be expected.
More than one-groove racing, track resurfacing also creates a situation with a great many unknowns. Old setups once used by teams likely will not work. In conjunction with the setups, Goodyear may bring tires that are too hard which will cause cars to slide too much to actually race each other. Or, the tires may be too soft which causes excessive wear and blowouts.
After the race held at the Phoenix International Raceway this past February, facility operator International Speedway, Corp. opted to repave and reconfigure the somewhat oddly shaped one-mile track. It seems odd timing for such a move considering that it was known a championship battle would be playing out when the Sprint Cup Series returned to the track in November.
With only two races remaining in the season and Carl Edwards locked in a tight battle with Tony Stewart, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that the repaving of the Phoenix track may play a major role in determining the 2011 NASCAR champion.
Granted, the track was repaved for everyone, not just a few. However, it seems as if the construction work could have been completed at a time when the adding of so many unknown variables would have had fewer serious implications.
Track officials have attempted a number of methods for working the new pavement in. Racing schools have been allowed to use the track and crews have logged numerous laps with vehicles dragging tires behind them to build up a rubber groove. The results of those efforts will soon be seen but early tire testing and practice sessions have not proven promising for the weekend.
Hopefully, this time around the will be the exception instead of the rule and no significant issues will arise following a track resurfacing. Hopefully, the racing will be great and the championship will not be adversely affected by the racing surface. However, history tells us that such will likely not be the case. This did not seem to be the best time for a track resurfacing.
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