HAMPTON, Ga. — In the wake of what is planned to be the final race on Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 20-year-old asphalt, with the running of Sunday’s Folds of Honor/QuikTrip 500, a huge outpouring of driver support for the current racing at the 1.54-mile oval has led to talk of leaving the aged surface as is a little bit longer.
Last resurfaced in 1997, Atlanta has hosted 31 NASCAR Cup Series races, 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series races, 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, eight ARCA Racing Series races and four Verizon IndyCar Series races.
The track announced plans to repave on Jan. 3, with a brand-new asphalt surface set to be placed over top of the current surface. The quad-oval layout and 24-degree banking in the turns would remain unchanged.
However, Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith explained Sunday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the number of drivers he has heard from is forcing he and his team to take a second look at the pending repave of the track.
“I want to sign all the drivers up to a glue team to help us glue the track back together,” Smith said. “It’s definitely something that we’re looking into. I love all the positive comments that we’ve gotten. We’re just going to have to look into it.”
Asked again if that meant that the door wasn’t closed on leaving the track as is, Smith clarified and restated his previous point.
“With all the positive comments that we’ve had, it’s definitely caused us to have to relook at our plan (to repave). You’re putting pressure on me, Claire,” Smith added, referring to ‘Dialed In’ host Claire B. Lang.
After Saturday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, won by Christopher Bell, two-time Truck champion Matt Crafton said that he would miss “the whole track” after it was repaved, making an impassioned plea during his post-race interview with FOX Sports 1 for Atlanta officials to reconsider their decision.
“If anybody is listening, Atlanta Motor Speedway … and I think we need to start a driver’s council — please, please do not repave this race track,” he added. “This is by far the coolest race track that we race on, just because you can move everywhere … on the yellow line in the middle of the racetrack, against the fence … it doesn’t matter. It was great racing and that’s what it’s all about.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joked on Twitter earlier in the week that the drivers should hold a memorial service for the old surface, while his teammate Jimmie Johnson said that he gets why the decision was made, even though he hates the necessity of it.
“We understand, but it’s just going to take a long time for the track to get back to this condition …” said the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. “We’ll enjoy it this weekend and maybe have that memorial service Dale Jr. is talking about and come back and go really fast next year.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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