Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber announced details related to the NASCAR facility's first major track paving project since 1990. Construction will begin in March with the removal of the facility's current racing surface and the subsequent installation of a new surface to go with a series of changes designed to promote side-by-side racing. While maintaining the integrity of PIR's oval – including the one-mile distance – the slight configuration changes are intended to produce a racier track with average speeds that are expected to increase two to three mph. The project is slated to conclude in September.
“When the time to repave PIR approached due to the life expectancy of our current racing surface, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to make a good thing even better for our fans,” Sperber said. “Our goal for this project was not to radically change a track that's celebrated by fans and drivers alike, but to utilize new technology to ensure great moments in the next chapter of racing history at PIR.”
Aside from the installation of a new, four-layer asphalt and aggregate surface, PIR will make the following adjustments:
• Widen the front stretch from 52 to 62 feet
• Reconfigure pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls
• Push the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet
• Tighten the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet
• Implement variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4
Project leader Bill Braniff, Senior Director of Construction for North American Testing Corporation (NATC) – a subsidiary of PIR's parent company, International Speedway Corporation – said the conclusion to tweak PIR's layout came after spending hundreds of man hours on computer simulations. PIR's pavement project will be the seventh of its kind for Braniff, including last summer's high-profile repave at Daytona International Speedway.
“We're very confident that we'll have multi-groove racing at Phoenix from day 1 because of the variable banking that will be implemented,” Braniff said. “All of the changes – including the adjustment of the dog-leg – will be put in place in order to present additional opportunities for drivers to race side by side.”