Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Darlington Raceway might be repaved
By Marty Smith ESPN.com
Darlington Raceway officials are seriously considering repaving the most notorious racing surface in NASCAR, track president Chris Browning confirmed Tuesday.
The surface at Darlington Raceway might get a facelift, but it won't happen until after the May 12 Dodge Avenger 500.
The decision has nothing to do with the track's abrasiveness. The track surface has begun to slide down the banking.
"The track is weathered and the surface is slipping, which is causing bumpiness," Browning said. "We're definitely looking at the prospect of repaving."
Browning said nothing is finalized. The track still seeks permission from its parent company, International Speedway Corp., to conduct the project, which wouldn't begin until after the May 12 Dodge Avenger 500.
Track officials have met with owners, drivers and team engineers, as well as NASCAR and Goodyear, to ensure that the project is done correctly.
That was one big knock from drivers on the decision to repave Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- it was done with no consultation from NASCAR, its drivers and teams, or Goodyear.
"The paving is awful," Kevin Harvick said. "It's rough. They had some guys that pave parking lots out there doing it. It's pretty awful ... It's too bad they repaved it and screwed it up for the next four or five years."
Browning said track officials spent time with Ray Evernham and Jeff Burton discussing the track, and sat down with Jeff Gordon for an hour following his Car of Tomorrow test last week.
They've also reached an agreement with Hendrick Motorsports' lead engineer Rex Stump to utilize data and telemetry collected during the CoT test in the repaving formula to help produce a proper mixture.
"If we're given permission to do this, we want to make sure we do it right," Browning said. "We're taking every measure to make sure that happens."
Darlington was last repaved in the fall of 1995. The first race run on the new pavement was the spring of 1996. Ward Burton won the pole with a speed of 173.797 mph -- a record run that stands to this day.
Marty Smith covers motorsports for ESPN.com.