By admin | June 16, 2012
By Richard Allen
I believe no racetrack should ever be resurfaced until it has reached the point that there is no other option. Unfortunately, several NASCAR tracks seem to have reached that point at the same time.
Track resurfacing has been very much in the news over the last two weeks with races held at Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway along with testing at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Varying issues have arisen as teams prepare to or actually did race on those newly repaved facilities.
Last week in Pocono there were 22 pit road speeding penalties handed down as the timing and scoring loops on pit road had been moved slightly along with the track’s resurfacing. The race itself was quite intriguing with a number of storylines but a number of drivers complained about being caught by NASCAR for going too fast in the wrong places.
A track resurfacing and reconfiguration in Bristol back in 2007 proved so unpopular among fans that the track has been once again changed after half-empty grandstands were clearly evident during this year’s spring Sprint Cup race on that track. A mid-week test session was just completed on the track by Goodyear to determine the right compound of rubber to bring back in August.
And again this weekend in Michigan, track resurfacing has become the story. Speeds are almost literally off the charts with the new pavement providing plenty of grip. But along with that speed comes increased wear on tires and many teams have reported blistering after their practice sessions.
The issue became such a concern that Goodyear brought in new tires and NASCAR allowed for an extra practice on Saturday evening so teams could adjust to the change. As this column is being typed, pickup trucks loaded with the new rubber are rolling into the garage area at Michigan International Speedway.
The problem with all of this is that changes are having to be made ‘on the fly’ in the midst of the season with race wins and points standings positions being determined by teams ability to adapt to last minute adjustments. When a track is newly paved, it would seem that there ought to be much more extensive testing to take place than what has been done in each of these cases.
Only three cars took part in the recent Bristol test. Limited testing was done before all teams were allowed to practice for two extra days in Pocono but that was on the very eve of the event with what proved to be too little time to digest all the information. The same sort of scenario was true in Michigan as limited tire testing was done and then an extra day of practice for all teams was allowed.
Obviously, the testing in Michigan did not prove to be enough. Of course, there will be talk of higher than expected temperatures or expense to teams or a schedule that does not allow for more testing. On the other side of the argument, tracks are not resurfaced that often so arrangements can be made. More testing should have been done with more cars involved so that ‘on the fly’ changes don’t have to be made.
I don’t like track resurfacing, but sometimes it has to be done. When it is done, better preparations for the next race need to be made.
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