Texas Motor Speedway Announces Changes Ahead of 2017

NASCAR via Getty Images

After a year of disappointing rainouts that delayed each of their prominent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016, Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) officials are making big changes for 2017.

TMS announced in a release on Friday the intent to both repave and reconfigure the facility’s 1.5-mile oval as part of a major capital improvement project for the coming year.

As part of the plan, the track intends to:

  • Completely repave the racing surface of the oval with an asphalt mix comparable to the ones seen in fellow SMI track Kentucky Speedway’s repave in 2016.
  • Construct an extensive French drainage system, helping to expedite the track drying process in the event of storms.
  • Redesign Turns 1 and 2, altering the current 24-degree banking –which is symmetrical to Turns 3 and 4- down to just 20 degrees, while expanding the racing surface width in that section of the track from 60 to 80 feet.

The speedway included a helpful infographic in both the release and on social media to help visualize their plans:

The repaving project will be completed by Lane Construction Corp., a business from nearby Justin, Texas, known for completing similar projects with NASCAR facilities in the past. The project is expected to be completed by mid-March, ahead of the track’s first NASCAR weekend on April 7-9.

The decision to repave the facility comes just months after a tumultuous 2016 for TMS in which it shared a rare honor with Pocono Raceway – having all three of their major NASCAR and IndyCar events postponed due to weather.

The most notable delays came for IndyCar, where the planned Firestone 600 was postponed from its original date of June 11 to 78 days later on Aug. 27 with 71 laps already in the books.

TMS President Eddie Gossage laid out the reasons for the proposed changes in the release, defending the decision to repave the facility despite the fact that it may not be met with praise from everyone in the paddock.

“The fans are why we are doing this,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “The old pavement no longer dried as quickly because through the years of use and weather, the asphalt became porous, kind of like a sponge. Even if we only had a brief shower it was taking us far too long to get the track dried in order to get on to the racing. We owe it to the fans to present the best possible race track so they will be assured of seeing NASCAR and INDYCAR races even if we face some brief inclement weather. This will accomplish that goal.”

Gossage also explained the decision to re-structure the track, a move similar to the one seen by Kentucky Speedway with their 2016 repave, citing an urge to make TMS stand apart from other 1.5-mile ovals.

“For years, I’ve heard the absurd comments about 1.5-mile tracks being tagged as ‘cookie-cutter’ tracks,” Gossage said. “While nothing could be further from the truth – all 1.5-mile tracks are different – this assures once and for all that Texas Motor Speedway is unique, unlike any other track in the sport. That’s the way we like it here in No Limits, Texas.”

NASCAR will be the first to race on the newly-renovated TMS on April 7-9, when the tour heads to Texas for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend. INDYCAR will see their first laps on the oval on June 8-10 for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series doubleheader. NASCAR will then return in the midst of their postseason for the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Chase tripleheader Nov. 2-5.

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