NASCAR & Auto Racing

Drivers approve of Texas Motor Speedway’s new racing surface

Drivers prefer racing on older surfaces, but Texas Motor Speedway’s new surface received positive reviews Monday.

NASCAR Cup driver Chris Buescher felt the track “did a nice job,” joking he got up to 120 mph in a pace car. IndyCar owner and driver Ed Carpenter echoed those sentiments, saying the surface is “greatly improved.”

TMS underwent a much-needed capital project to repave the track and improve the drainage system. Rain delays plagued every race weekend in 2016. The IndyCar race was red-flagged for 76 days because of issues drying the track in June.

The track also opted to reduce the banking through Turns 1 and 2 from 24 to 20 degrees. The racing surface was expanded from 60 to 80 feet.

That means exiting pit road got significantly tighter, although neither driver seemed overly concerned about that. After all, they are the best drivers in the world.

“Nonissue from my standpoint,” Buescher said.

Added Carpenter: “We race on tracks that are tighter than that. … I don’t see it being a problem.”

With the project complete, TMS will now try to “age” the track as much as possible before its opening weekend April 7-9 with NASCAR Xfinity and Cup races scheduled.

The track will use what it calls the “Texas Tire Monster” and a similar device — the “Tire Dragon” — shipped in from its sister track, Kentucky Speedway, to work rubber into the surface.

The desired effect is to create multiple grooves for drivers. Additionally, TMS will apply hydrated lime to help draw out the oils from the asphalt to take away some of the grip that drivers dislike.

Most important, though, is that rain showers shouldn’t cause lengthy delays from now on.

“The whole point of doing what we did was to give fans certainty that when they come to the track, even when there is inclement weather in the area, we can get it dried quickly and get back to racing,” TMS President Eddie Gossage said.

New sponsor

TMS announced a new sponsor for the Xfinity Series race April 8, reaching a five-year agreement with Wise Health System. The race will be called “My Bariatric Solutions 300.” Financial terms were not released.

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