As first reported on Twitter by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Atlanta Motor Speedway will not repave their 1.5 mile track for next year’s race, electing instead to postpone their plans for at least a year.
The track, which has not been repaved since it was reconfigured in 1997, has shown increasing signs of wear over the years and as a result has been revered by drivers for its challenging race conditions, including heavy tire fall-off and cars slipping and sliding around on the worn-out surface.
Even though the track originally announced that they would repave the facility before their 2018 race weekend, an outcry from the drivers during their 2017 race weekend set the wheels in motion to postpone those plans.
“Don’t do it,” said 2017 race winner, Brad Keselowski. “Marcus (Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc.), where are you bud? Don’t do it. We’re trying to save you money, Marcus.”
“Drivers hate repaves. We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can. But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years, I think, this season, and they should be really proud of that,” Keselowski added.
“My hope is they can get another year or two out of it, and I understand if they can’t, and you have to kind of leave it to their expertise and so forth.”
“You know, we don’t want to see them repave it, but my desire to not see this track get repaved is only superceded by my desire to not see it have an issue where it comes apart or has weepers.”
So, instead of repaving, the track will continue a thorough maintenance process in order to make the track surface last for at least another year. Included in the work that the track will have to do to get it race-ready for 2018 is laying down sealant over the full layout of the track as well as patching certain portions of the track in an effort to keep it from deteriorating further.
Following their tripleheader weekend in 2018, the track will re-assess its condition and its plans going forward at that point.
“We appreciate all of the input we have received from key individuals in the NASCAR industry, as well as our customers,” said Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway president. “The overwhelming majority have urged us to hold off on paving that we can enjoy at least one more weekend of high-speed slipping and sliding in 2018 before the new surface is installed.”