Kentucky Speedway 2016 Repave – What Will the Drivers Think?

Matt Kenseth at Kentucky a Few Years prior to the Kentucky Speedway 2016 RepaveRepaving of race surfaces are rarely popular with drivers. Most of the field of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series prefer surfaces with irregularities and character. Will the Kentucky Speedway 2016 repave be any more popular than past resurfacing projects at tracks?

Kentucky Speedway 2016 Repave

Kentucky Speedway is one of the many 1.5-mile tri-oval speedways on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series schedule. Located in Sparta, Kentucky, the track opened 16 years ago. Since opening, the KY track has had numerous issues with its surface. In 2000, track officials resurfaced the track because of bumps in the surface created from winter weather/temperatures.

Over this past winter, surface concerns and drainage issues as well prompted another repave. In December 2015, Kentucky Speedway announced plans to reconfigure the track — repaving the entire track and reconfiguring turns 1 and 2. While the bumpy surface was part of it, the main issue that prompted the work was the rain-soaked NASCAR weekend in 2015. “Weepers” kept bringing more water the track surface, even as the track drying efforts were underway.

Changes Coming From the Kentucky Speedway 2016 Repave

For the 2016 NASCAR weekend, the Kentucky Speedway 2016 repave and reconfiguration starts with the the first two turns. Turns 1 and 2 modifications included increasing the banking from 14 up to 17 degrees. Turns 3 and 4 will continue to have 14 degrees of banking. The track will also be narrowed from 72 feet down to 56 feet. This modification is in part to give the cars leaving pit road a wider apron for acceleration and blending back up onto the race surface.

On the safety front, the speedway added SAFER barriers to the front stretch to minimize injury and increase driver safety.

Aging the New Surface

NASCAR officials noted that they have worked with Kentucky Speedway. Good Year tire has also been a crucial part to make the new surface as amenable as possible. To help age the track in attempts to satisfy the drivers and fans, the resurfacing used a curing process that is said to make the track feel like it’s been weathered by about 5 years. NASCAR even brought back tire dragging — an old technique originally used by NASCAR to dry tracks before the introduction of the jet dryers and Air Titan systems.

Fourteen NASCAR Sprint Cup teams performed a tire test at Kentucky Speedway in mid June. By the second day of the tire test, drivers reported the racing surface was widening as rubber continued to be laid down. The real test though will be this coming race weekend. All three national series will be present at Kentucky. Races start with Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series’ Buckle Up In Your Truck 225.

The new drainage system may also be tested this race weekend at Kentucky Speedway. At the time of this being published, precipitation is a possibility on all three of the race days. Rain chances are 40%, 20% and 50% respectively for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A complete schedule and tickets are available on the Kentucky Speedway web site

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