In news that is not likely to have many fans throughout the NASCAR garage, Atlanta Motor Speedway announced on Tuesday that the 1.5 mile track will be resurfaced after the completion of its 2017 race weekend in March.
The track was last repaved in 1997 when the facility underwent a reconfiguration from a true oval to the current quad-oval, making it the second oldest surface on the NASCAR circuit. A favorite among drivers and fans alike, the track’s aging surface had developed multiple racing grooves and slick driving conditions that have played a big part in some of the sport’s closest finishes throughout the years.
Among those notable races that have taken place on the 1.5 mile track since its last repave is Dale Earnhardt’s .010 second photo finish over Bobby Labonte in 2000, Kevin Harvick’s .006 second margin of victory over Jeff Gordon one year later, and Carl Edwards beating Jimmie Johnson back to the finish by .028 seconds in 2005 to score his first Cup Series win.
“Many of NASCAR’s greatest moments have occurred on this racing surface, and I have no doubt the world’s best drivers will give it a proper final event before the new surface comes to life. Whichever driver can take home the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 trophy in 2017 will mark the end of one era of great racing in AMS history and the beginning of another,” said AMS president Ed Clark.
When the track last underwent a repaving, the speeds skyrocketed from the old layout to the new layout, with Geoffrey Bodine’s lap of 28.074 seconds, 197.478 mph, still standing to this day. With the new asphalt, speeds are likely to skyrocket once again when cars return to the new surface in 2018.
The track stated that they would overlay the new asphalt directly over the current surface and the track’s 24 degrees of banking in the turns would remain the same. The repaving project has a scheduled completion date of mid-April.