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SMI rethinking Atlanta Motor Speedway repave?
RELATED: Atlanta announces repave plan HAMPTON, Ga. -- Drivers have made their feelings known about Atlanta Motor Speedway's scheduled repave, lobbying nearly in unison for the project to be delayed. Marcus Smith, president and CEO of track owner Speedway Motorsports, Inc., says he's listening. Smith addressed the topic and the possibility of a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at SMI's facility in Las Vegas in a meeting with reporters approximately an hour before the green flag of Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Atlanta . The 500-miler is scheduled to be the last on the Georgia track's 20-year-old pavement, which has drawn rave reviews from drivers. The gritty surface places a premium on tire wear and car control, leading to multi-groove racing and slipping and sliding throughout the field. Smith said he's heard the pleas from drivers over the tripleheader weekend to keep things the way they are, to at least temporarily stall the renovation. "I can't really say the status has changed, but it's caused us to think about what we're doing," Smith said. "We've looked at the track a lot, of course, over the years, and we feel like we've gotten about three more years out of the life of the track right now. So the challenges are still there on keeping the track raceable and making it something we can have a race on today and have a quality race. "But definitely (we) have heard from the drivers saying that they like this gritty surface and so we will look at it after the race today and be able to make a better determination of what we'll have to do going forward." RELATED: Bell wins Truck Series race at Atlanta Drivers have been nearly unified in their praise of the old surface, taking to their Twitter accounts to campaign for a paving reprieve at the 1.54-mile track. Matt Crafton joined the chorus in his post-race remarks after finishing second in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. "It's so much fun," Crafton said. "I think we need to start a drivers' council. If anybody from Atlanta Motor Speedway wants to come in here and wants to talk about repaving this place, then we need to get all the drivers together and talk about it because that was some of the greatest racing I've seen in a long time. … Everyone was all over that race track, and that's what it's all about." If and when the Atlanta repave occurs, Smith said his team of engineers and paving experts will likely take cues from Texas Motor Speedway , which has completed a resurfacing project ahead of NASCAR's visit next month to the Lone Star State. The use of different asphalt compounds and artificial aging processes should help to accelerate Texas' breaking-in period, with Smith indicating that he hopes its new surface will emulate Atlanta's current state. PHOTOS: See the Texas repave underway It's yet another item on a long to-do list for SMI, which owns eight speedways that host 12 dates on the 36-race schedule for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. A pressing concern out of the Atlanta weekend is a planned Wednesday meeting for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors to discuss the possibility of adding a second Monster Energy Series race at SMI's Las Vegas Motor Speedway as early as 2018. "We love the support that we get out of Las Vegas," Smith said. "I think the fans love it, so it's a great track for us. I think when we see that the community is supportive of racing there, it's definitely encouraging to us." RELATED: Report says Vegas closing in on second premier series date NASCAR entered into a five-year sanctioning agreement with the 23 tracks that host Monster Energy Cup Series events in October 2015. NASCAR officials have long maintained that they have no intention of expanding the schedule beyond its current 36-race limit. Adding a second event in Vegas would likely need to occur at the expense of an existing track on the schedule, fueling speculation about whether SMI would shift a race away from its remaining seven tracks -- Atlanta , Bristol, Charlotte, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Sonoma or Texas -- or whether another venue would surrender a date. "You know, I'm not big on speculating. I'd rather just tell you when I know, but it's fun to speculate," Smith said with a grin. "So we'll see." </p>
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Atlanta Motor Speedway to be repaved in 2017
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Twenty years after it was last resurfaced, Atlanta Motor Speedway 's historic racing surface is scheduled to be repaved this spring, following the March 3-5 NASCAR Weekend tripleheader. Work is scheduled to begin in late March with an expected completion in mid-April. The current asphalt at AMS is the second-oldest racing surface on the entire circuit, and officials credit its longevity to a combination of the mild Georgia winters and a meticulous maintenance program over its entire two-decade lifetime. Since its last repave in 1997, the track has hosted 31 premier NASCAR series races, 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series races, 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, eight ARCA Racing Series races, four IndyCar Series races and countless U.S. Legends and Bandolero car races on its quarter-mile "Thunder Ring." Despite the wear and tear of aging in recent years, the track has been a favorite of many competitors who have raved about the challenging nature of the track. Its aged surface, slick driving conditions and multiple racing grooves have produced not only exciting races and close finishes for fans in attendance, but a technical challenge for drivers who have battled slick corners, fast straightaways and ample opportunity for passing. Some of the most notable NASCAR races have taken place on the current surface, including Dale Earnhardt's 0.010-second margin of victory over Bobby Labonte in 2000, Kevin Harvick 's emotional and record-setting 0.006-second margin of victory over Jeff Gordon in Earnhardt's Richard Childress Racing car the following year, Carl Edwards' first Cup Series victory in 2005 and subsequent season sweep of both Atlanta races that year and the first-ever Atlanta night race in 2009. Geoff Bodine's amazing AMS qualifying record was set at the very first race on the current surface in 1997, when he blazed around the track in 28.074 seconds at an average speed of 197.478 mph. And currently, Bobby Labonte and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson are tied at five for the most Cup Series victories on the surface. Johnson can break the tie in the final race on the surface at the 2017 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 as he attempts his third consecutive victory at Atlanta . "Many of NASCAR's greatest moments have occurred on this racing surface, and I have no doubt the world's best drivers will give it a proper final event before the new surface comes to life," said AMS president Ed Clark. "Whichever driver can take home the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 trophy in 2017 will mark the end of one era of great racing in AMS history and the beginning of another." The repaving project calls for a brand-new asphalt surface to be lain over top of the current surface. AMS's quad-oval layout and 24-degree banking in the turns will remain unchanged. While a smoother surface and blended seams will accompany the new repave, the high speeds and multiple racing grooves unique to Atlanta Motor Speedway are expected to endure and produce the same, thrilling racing experience for both fans and drivers for many years to come. Drivers who have enjoyed the unique quality of the existing AMS racing surface will have one more opportunity to etch their name in the track record books when NASCAR returns March 3-5. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying will kick off the weekend on Friday, March 3 before the only same-day doubleheader will take to the track on Saturday, March 4 with the back-to-back Rinnai 250 XFINITY Series and Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series races. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Cup Series race will round out the weekend on Sunday, March 5 with a scheduled 2:30 p.m. green flag. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com .
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Texas Motor Speedway to be repaved ahead of April races
RELATED: Buy tickets for Texas Following a year that saw both its NASCAR race weekends impacted by rain and track drying issues, officials with Texas Motor Speedway have announced a capital improvement project that includes a repaving of the 1.5-mile racing surface, the installation of an expansive drainage system as well as a reconfiguration of Turns 1 and 2. Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said the decision wasn't a difficult one to make "because you always want to please the fans. "I think the initial response from some drivers is no (don’t repave) … but they were all here … they all experienced it. It really wasn't a choice; we need to do this." The spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas in 2016 was delayed nearly two hours due to rain; the fall event was delayed approximately six hours, finally started under a green/yellow flag situation and was eventually shortened 41 laps when precipitation returned. The project is expected to be completed by March 1. NASCAR teams are scheduled to return to Texas April 7-9 for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and Cowboy 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Gossage said he hoped Goodyear officials would hold a tire test at the track upon completion of the repave. "We are going to strongly encourage Goodyear to test and not just bring a hard tire," he said. "That will be a mistake." However, in a statement released Friday afternoon, Goodyear official Greg Stucker said the tire supplier "will have to bring a new tire set-up" for the race weekend but that "because of the tight schedule, we do not have time to do a tire test." Stucker said that similar changes were made at Kentucky last year, and along with the tire supplier's history over a wide range of track configurations and surfaces, "we will determine the appropriate tire set-up in advance of the event, giving teams plenty of time to prepare." The Kentucky repave project also included a reconfiguration of its first and second turns and drainage improvements. Gossage said that repaving the track also afforded officials the opportunity to drop the banking in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 to 20 degrees, a move that could provide more passing opportunities as drivers should have to lift off the gas and possibly brake more due to the flatter turns. "Hopefully in time as the asphalt ages the drivers will have to stay out of the gas a little longer, hopefully use the brake some in Turns 1-2 and that sets up passing opportunities in the turns, on the back straightaway and of course now you're carrying a different speed through Turns 3-4 and hopefully that creates some passing opportunities on the front straight as well," he said. "A whole lot of different things going on here, but the big thing … that you're not seeing is underneath it is this drainage system. Because we want to make sure that we don't struggle with the issues that weve struggled with last year. It's not fair to the fans." Also, making the changes now means that teams will race on the same surface on both trips to Texas this season, something Gossage said was particularly important given that the fall race is one of the final Chase races. "We didn't want to have two different Texas Motor Speedway s in one NASCAR season, especially when we were the third Chase race from the end of the season," he said. "We felt like you need to have the same track when you're here in April and when you're here in November in the course of a season." No cost estimate was given for the project. Texas is the second track to announce a repaving project this year. Atlanta Motor Speedway , which is also owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., will be repaved following the completion of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 slated for March 5. Graphic courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway
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Atlanta repave delayed until after 2018 NASCAR races
RELATED: All the winners at Atlanta " Blaney pleased with Atlanta decision Atlanta Motor Speedway officials have put off a repaving project at the 1.54-mile facility until the track's 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race has been completed. Officials had planned to repave the worn racing surface following this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 5. Several NASCAR drivers, however, urged track officials and Speedway Motorsports Inc., President Marcus Smith to reconsider the move. The track was last repaved in 1997. The worn, abrasive pavement creates tremendous tire falloff, and the slick surface typically provides some of the most exciting racing on the NASCAR schedule. "We're going to repave, it's just a matter of when we're going to do it," Ed Clark, AMS president and general manager, told NASCAR.com Tuesday. "We know we have to do it sooner rather than later. "We've talked to fans, to people in the NASCAR garage, spent a good bit of time with Rick Campbell of Goodyear, and we came to the conclusion that with a little bit of work, cutting out some spots and patching them, we could go another year. "If they can make it work, we'll go another year and evaluate it after next year's race. We are going to have to cut some patches out and repave them, mostly on the front straightaway." ICYMI --> 1997 was a good year for paving ... by popular demand, we are going to hold off on paving @amsupdates for one more season. https://t.co/CPSVmMdkFU — Marcus Smith (@MarcusSMI) March 28, 2017 Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion and winner of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip race, said after his win that the decision to repave puts tracks in a difficult position. "It's tough, and I feel bad for those guys because all it takes is one race where there are weepers or where the track comes apart and you've got red flags and delays and everybody gets mad at them," Keselowski said. "So they're really in a no‑win spot. We pick on them and tell them don't do it and all these other things, but at some point you have to trust them to know their business. "... Drivers hate repaves. We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can. But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years I think ... and they should be really proud of that." Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns eight tracks that host 12 points races on the 36-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. One property, Texas Motor Speedway , was recently repaved and reconfigured in preparation for this year's two stops at that 1.5-mile venue. "I think we all appreciate tracks with so much character and to have the bad news that two of the tracks with the most character are going to be repaved this year, I think that shocked and upset a lot of us," seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson said when asked about the Atlanta repave earlier this year. "We get it. We understand, but it's just going to take a long time for the track to get back to this condition." Clark said officials' biggest concern with the racing surface are parts of the track "unraveling" where cracks exist in the asphalt. "It's more of that," he said, "the gradual unraveling and a crack opening up. I'm not concerned necessarily about a big chunk of asphalt coming out or anything like that. We've looked at that pretty closely. "The good news about our place is we've kept this thing sealed up. We've done it every single year since it was paved, sealed every crack in the fall. We just haven't gotten the humps and bumps that some tracks get. From that standpoint, other than it just being absolutely worn out, that's not an issue. I think that's somewhat the comfort level drivers have in saying just leave it alone." NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters said he was "ecstatic" that officials are holding off on the AMS repaving project. "I think other tracks should look at that," he said. "Worn-out pavement is the way to go, in my opinion. " Atlanta ... is multi-groove, from the bottom to the middle to the top. It puts it back in the driver's hands. I guarantee they will get a lot of Christmas cards this year for electing not to repave the place." Atlanta Motor Speedway , located in Hampton, Georgia, has been hosting NASCAR-sanctioned races since 1960. In addition to the quad-oval featuring 24-degree banked turns, the site includes a 2.5-mile road course. Permanent seating capacity for the facility is 71,000. "We're going to let it ride, let them slip and slide in 2018 and figure it out after that I guess," Clark said. - RJ Kraft contributed to this story.
Kyle Busch wins second-straight Atlanta XFINITY race
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Detailed breakdown " Shop: Busch gear HAMPTON, Ga. – It took Kyle Busch 13 years to get his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It took him one more year to get the second. The pole winner at Atlanta for the sixth time, Busch pulled away after a restart on Lap 148 of 163 and beat Brad Keselowski to the finish line by .605 seconds to score his second straight victory at the 1.54-mile track in Saturday's Rinnai 250. "It took so long to get here to begin with," Busch said in Victory Lane. "Now we've won two in a row. We weren't great to begin with, and we weren't great in the middle, but (crew chief) Scott Graves and the guys keep working on the car throughout the race and brought the No. 18 (Toyota) to life there at the end." Busch was first off pit road under the fifth caution of the afternoon after Kyle Larson, the leader entering pit road, nearly collided with Kevin Harvick, the dominant driver for most of the race with 64 laps led. The near-miss cost both drivers a fraction of a second — enough for Busch to exit with the lead. "I can't say enough about my pit crew," Busch said. "They did an awesome job getting me off pit road first for that final run." Later, Busch's race-winning entry failed post-race inspection for a height violation, according to NASCAR officials. Busch's car measured too low on both the right and left front. The car will be taken back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina for final inspection and any penalties will be announced next week. RELATED: Busch's No. 18 fails post-race inspection The victory was Busch's 87th in 329 XFINITY starts, extending his own series record. Both Larson and Harvick fell back on the Lap 148 restart and finished third and fourth, respectively. Elliott Sadler, who ran fifth in the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, had the best result among series regulars and leads the XFINITY standings by three points over Sunoco rookie William Byron. Darrell Wallace Jr., Byron, Austin Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer completed the top 10. Drawing a penalty for too many men over the wall on pit road, Custer restarted from the rear after a Lap 118 caution for Denny Hamlin's spin in Turn 1, but recovered to earn his top-10 finish in the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. The race was contested in three stages, the first two of 40 laps each before an 83-lap final stage. Keselowski, a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular, won the first stage, earning a playoff point for the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Harvick won Stage 2 convincingly, but his car tightened up in the final third of the race, as shadows covered Turns 1 and 2. As a full-time monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, Busch is ineligible to earn points in the XFINITY Series, but his victory was worth five playoff points on the owner's side to the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Contributing: NASCAR.com staff &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;