A week after the Daytona 500 was interrupted by two red flag stoppages that meant the race took six and a half hours to complete, the subject of Daytona's aging track surface remained a hot topic of conversation at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway, site of this weekend's second Sprint Cup race. Daytona International Speedway announced this week that it had opted – at least for now – to repair the hole with a reinforced concrete patch covering some 18ft of track surface, rather than repave the entire 2.5-mile track.
The Daytona track surface has not been repaved since 1978 and some drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., say it's time to do just that. However, this view was not unanimous, with series champion Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton coming out against the repave idea.
"I'm excited that we're not going to change the surface," said Johnson. "I guess the fans may want it resurfaced so we run three-wide for all the laps, but Daytona has separated itself because it's rough and the asphalt is real porous and wears the tires out. So, I'm happy to hear they're just trying to fix that area. It was impossible for them to know that the track was going to come apart and all the issues that we had. I'm on the track's side and NASCAR's side and think they handled things very well. I'm hopeful that patch gives us a few more years to use the racetrack as is.
"I remember when Talladega found some evidence when the track was kind of shifting down the banking and sliding," Johnson added. "I guess at some point somebody in that industry knows when it's coming apart. But from a driver's standpoint, we like the tracks that are more porous. The new aggregates that are put together that Talladega was resurfaced with and Charlotte Motor Speedway, that aggregate has so much fill in it that the stones don't really show up and they don't wear the tires out. So from a driver's standpoint, what we want is probably far different than a track operator's desires and they've got to find that happy balance. But I'll leave it up to the smart people and hopefully they get it figured out."
DIS officials said the facility was scheduled for a $20 million repaving in 2012 even before the problems surfaced last Sunday. They have not indicated whether the timing of that project would be moved up, in light of what happened.