The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Motorsports Venues - New Asphalt, New Configuration And A New Notebook for Teams At Phoenix

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Oct. 5, 2011: Among the grocery list of items needed to repave a one-mile race track located just outside of Phoenix: 23,000 tons of asphalt, 7,000 cubic yards of concrete and 600 pounds of rebar. Combine all of that, and you have cars on the race track in Arizona, and the first opportunity for a full-scale NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test on the newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway.

Testing on the repaved and reconfigured one-mile Phoenix oval kicked off Tuesday, the first of a two-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test session. This was the first opportunity for most teams to test the new track surface following the five-driver Goodyear tire test in late August.

“I think it is a really unique layout,” said Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) of the new track. “The exit of Turn 2 is very unique; very different; the back straightaway has a lot of banking and it’s like falling into a hole; it’s pretty cool and it is neat to do something different here.”

In February, the 47-year-old facility announced it would undergo its first major paving project since 1990. While protecting the integrity of the one-mile oval, changes were implemented to the banking and configuration to promote side-by-side racing.

“It’s cool with the new banking,” said David Ragan (No. 6 UPS Ford). “There is a little bit more speed. Anytime you repave a race track you always have that 6-8 month period where the asphalt is wearing. It is curing and it is coming into its own. It gives us a hard time to figure it out, but the track will only get better with time. I think it is going to be a good race.”

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, noted that the test session is an opportunity for teams to prepare for next month’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix. “This is a brand new facility,” said Pemberton. “These teams will have to throw out their notebooks and start over. It takes time for these newly paved tracks and that’s why we are here testing. The teams are experimenting with a lot of different options and that’s what they need to do.”

In addition to testing the new asphalt and configuration, three teams were also here testing Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) cars. Hendrick Motorsports, Penske Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing brought additional cars to test in preparation for the launch of EFI in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2012.