Daytona to be resurfaced
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- International Speedway Corporation plans to resurface Daytona International Speedway in three years, the first time that has occurred since 1978.
And the decision was in place long before Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Wednesday that the 2.5-mile track was becoming too bumpy and long overdue for a new surface.
"It has nothing to do with money, although it will be a $20 million project," DIS president Robin Braig said. "It has nothing to do with technology. We banked Talladega so we know we can do it on the high banking.
"It's all about when NASCAR and Goodyear says we need to do it," Braig said.
Daytona is one of the few major tracks that hasn't been resurfaced over the past 10 years. Talladega, Darlington, Lowe's Motor Speedway and many others have been through the process.
Sprint Cup series director John Darby said the DIS surface hasn't reached the point where it needs immediate attention because it isn't coming apart like Talladega was, but it is near the end of its life cycle.
He reminded that when the track is resurfaced the sanctioning body will have to make adjustments on the restrictor plate and tires because the speeds will jump considerably just as they have at other tracks.
"We know it's bumpy," Darby said. "A lot of what happened is that since Talladega was repaved it is smoother than a baby's bottom. That makes it easier for the drivers. But you can't compare the two tracks even though a lot of people do.
"They're not similar. They're like black and white," Darby said.
But Earnhardt said 30 years is too long and the bumps are proof of it.
"It's not unsafe," NASCAR's most popular driver said. "It just don't put on a good show. I like the bumps. You're going to ask guys in there and they're going to say, 'Oh, man, the bumps are cool.' They are cool, but they'll be back."
Not all drivers believe resurfacing is necessary.
"They should not repave any tracks," Carl Edwards said. "The rougher the better. If makes it more fun when you're out there sliding around and moving. It makes it harder so that you can end up running different lines and get an advantage.
"If this track was like Talladega it wouldn't be nearly as fun," he continued. "Repaving Darlington was the most frustrating thing they've done. In my eyes, that took a lot of fun out of that place."
Denny Hamlin argues that some of the best racing in NASCAR is at Talladega since the resurfacing "because we have so much control over our cars and you see a lot of the three- to four-wide racing."
"Here you don't see it as much and cars do get strung out a little more, but it's still better than any mile-and-a-half or two-mile race tracks," he added.
The bottom line for Earnhardt?
"Seventy-eight was a long time ago," he said. "Highways get paved more often than that, and they're only going 55 and 65 on them. If I owned a racetrack I'm going to pave that damn thing at the last minute. It costs a lot of money to pave it.
"I can understand why it doesn't happen more often, but they did pave Talladega and that's got good reviews. Maybe we'll get this thing paved before I retire," he said.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.