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September 30, 2014

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Repave Daytona. Not!

Does Potholegate justify repaving Daytona? I’ll have to vote no on that question.

The pothole that reared its ugly head at the Daytona 500 marred what was otherwise a good race. But does that mean that the entire track should be repaved to fix one pothole? Is it worth risking good racing by possibly changing the character of the racing surface?

I guess the answer lies in how the surface would be repaved. When Bristol was repaved, the quality of the racing suffered. But that repaving job also included making the racing surface a little wider and using some graduated banking to create a second racing groove. That kind of reconfiguration is something that I would hate to see as a part of a repaving strategy for Daytona.

Even a conservative repaving effort can have an effect on the racing. It seems that the first couple of races after a repaving job aren’t as competitive until the track gets some rubber worked into it.

The current racing surface at Daytona is slick, wavy and in some places, bumpy. It’s a track with character. Why mess with that? In a racing schedule that is overloaded with cookie-cutter tracks, having tracks with some character is necessary to break the cycle of single-file racing that is all too common. And if NASCAR is serious about creating a season of racing that’s more competitive and exciting, then tracks like Daytona are essential.

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On Thursday, Daytona International Speedway began pouring concrete in Turn 2 of the racetrack in an attempt to strengthen the area where the pothole appeared. Hopefully this is a repair that will stop potholes from appearing and will alleviate the need for a complete repaving of the track.

A spokesperson for the speedway said that the track will be evaluated after the repairs to determine if a complete repaving is necessary. Speedway president Robin Braig mentioned that the track may not need repaving now, but could be necessary in the next two to four years. Also, at a cost of $20 million, a repaving project may not be what the track wants to spend during a recession.

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