For only the second time in its history, Daytona International Speedway will be repaved following the Coke Zero 400 in July, track president Robin Braig announced.
"We just can't risk it," said Braig. "It's the Daytona 500. We owe it to NASCAR and our TV partners. We can't risk it again. There was only one window to do it, immediately following the Coke Zero 400. We probably couldn't have done it before July."
Braig also confirmed that there are no plans to alter the current 31-degree banking in the corners, one of the track's trademarks.
Since this year's Daytona 500, the hole at Turn 2 has been fixed by making a concrete patch, which officials are confident will last the distance of the summer events, when the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series compete at the track again.
International Speedway Corporation's team of engineers and asphalt specialists conducted a thorough evaluation of the entire track following February's problematic Daytona 500, which was red-flagged twice due to breaking up of the track surface. Their analysis led to a recommendation to repave the entire 2.5-mile tri-oval, as well as the skid pads, apron and pit road. Concrete will be used for the pit stalls. All of the existing asphalt will be removed down to the original 52-year-old lime rock base, which will be leveled and then paving will begin. DIS officials pledged that the repaving "will remain true to Bill France Sr.'s original vision, layout and geometry of the track" that was constructed in the late 1950s.
The repaving project will begin immediately after the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola on Sunday, July 4, with a target completion date of Jan. 1, 2011. Due to the repaving project, the October motorcycle races, Richard Petty Driving Experience dates, testing sessions and other DIS track rental events will be canceled for the rest of the year. Daytona KartWeek on Dec. 28-30 will continue as scheduled.
“I think is it a good choice to put a new surface down," commented Dale Earnhardt Jr. "The old surface was a lot of fun, but it is kind of getting past its prime, I think. The sooner we get a new surface down that can get some weather on it, the quicker we will get to the kind of racetrack that everybody wants. It is one of the most popular and important tracks on our circuit. I'm glad to see it get a face lift.”
This year's Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray reckoned the new surface could provide an immediate benefit.
“It is going to make the racing a little bit different. Probably more side by side longer throughout the run," McMurray said. "Daytona has always been the place you could run 10 or 12 laps wide open and then you start to slide around. With the bumps off of Turn 2 and off of Turn 4, it made it harder to run side by side. I would assume we will see more three wide, side by side for longer throughout the run. It should be really exciting for the fans.”