Since the last time the NASCAR circuit was at Kentucky Speedway, changes have been made. These changes were necessary for the facility that was incepted in 2000.
Despite the traffic concerns that ensued on their inaugural race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kentucky had more issues within the racing surface. Drainage issues and a rough track surface were the culprit for a new Kentucky Speedway.
When Kentucky announced they were going to repave the track, they also announced that they will reconfigure the track as well during the repave.
What did the repave and reconfiguration project include?
29,700 feet of draining pipe will be included in the subsurface draining system. An addition of 3200 feet of SAFER Barrier was added, in addition to the 2500 feet installed in 2015. SAFER Barriers cover 11,300 feet of the wall, resulting in nearly all the walls being covered by SAFER. The apron of turns one and two and the pit exit drive line were widened from 14 feet to 30 feet. The track was narrowed in turns one and two from 74 feet to 56 feet. The banking was increased from 14 to 17 degrees. Over 17,000 tons of asphalt was poured over the entire 1.5-mile facility.
Work began on Kentucky Speedway with the removal of the SAFER Barriers in January. Once SAFER was removed, work on the drainage system occurred. At the end of April, the repave began and was completed in May.
Surveying, track design, and layout was done by Line and Grade. Grading, excavating, under drain, and soil stabilizing was done by Baker’s Construction Services. Ohio Valley Asphalt provided the mix for paving. SAFER Barriers were provided by Southern Bleacher and Seal Pro.
A standard racing asphalt mix was used to pave the track with a minor tweak for surface wear. A curing process was used to help age the track to be “seasoned” by this weekend.
Changes to the pit lane were made because the exit was narrow making traffic merges nearly impossible. This allowed for a shorter racing groove and steeper banking in the turns. The first and second turns are considered more difficult than three and four.
"I am excited about the finished product as we wanted to present a unique challenge to the drivers," project manager Steve Swift said, vice president of operations and development for parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. "This design, with Turns 1 and 2 completely different than 3 and 4 accomplishes that goal. The big winner will be the race fan."