Since virtually every human the planet doesn’t want Atlanta Motor Speedway to repave its racing surface after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, the track may actually reconsider its plans to destroy everything that’s good and holy in the world of cookie-cutter race tracks. This is a beautiful day.
While the potential for an Atlanta Motor Speedway repave has been looming over hardcore NASCAR fans and drivers for years, it became a reality in January: the track announced that it would repave the surface after the track’s NASCAR weekend in March, with the new surface to be completed in April.
People, for the most part, didn’t seem to be too thrilled. That’s for good reason, too—the asphalt racing surface at Atlanta is the second-oldest on the NASCAR circuit, and its last repave occurred 20 years ago. That’s what makes it amazing.
Atlanta falls into the category of NASCAR’s “cookie cutter” race tracks, which means it’s a 1.5-mile oval just like a huge chunk of the rest of the NASCAR schedule is. Those particular ovals often aren’t the most interesting race tracks to watch, but Atlanta’s old racing surface continues to make it one of the best shows in its cookie-cutter category.
The tar snakes and rough asphalt make for tire falloff and more scattered race strategies, which makes things harder for the drivers and more fun for the fans. The only problem with these older racing surfaces, as we saw from the most recent Texas Motor Speedway weekend before its repave began at the start of 2017, is that they make tracks almost impossible to dry in a timely fashion when a race weekend happens to be rainy.
But the wait at Texas Motor Speedway wasn’t that bad, and a wait is always worth it if the racing is good in the end. Plus, it doesn’t always rain!
The cries to keep Atlanta from repaving its surface were passionate but futile in the months leading up to the final race in the track’s current state, but everyone began to get more fired up this weekend. In a broadcast interview earlier in the weekend, 2012 Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski brought up the repave and said something like, “I know they’re thinking about it, but don’t do it!”
Drivers, active and retired, echoed that on Twitter, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Matt Crafton and others. According to ESPN, the race track’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc., said prior to Sunday’s race in Atlanta that it will see if there are “any options to keep from repaving in the offseason after pleas from drivers.”
Hallelujah, and praise the speedway executives for listening to their people. We may not get a repave after all. Everyone chant: “We want the tar snakes! We want the tire wear!”