It was the end of an era once the checkered flag fell at Kansas on Sunday. Denny Hamlin was the driver doing the burnouts, getting the Gatorade bath, and doing the sponsor hat dance in victory lane.
Meanwhile, during all that celebrating, the crew at Kansas Speedway already was setting up to begin a process that no track owner wants to spend money to do, but knows that eventually, it must be done. The bulldozers and jackhammers were already getting set to tear up the asphalt of the track. Kansas is the fourth track that has been scheduled for a repave this season, with both Michigan and Pocono having already completed their repaving projects and Bristol going into a repave based on the input from the fans.
It certainly is not a cheap investment for track owners to do such a project, but it is one that eventually must be done. The surface at Kansas has been in place since 2001, with the track seeing one race each year between then and 2010. Last year was the first time the track hosted two races.
Despite only hosting 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, the track has seen much wear based on weather and time. Asphalt always has a tendency to crack and that causes the track to create seams in the surface, meaning a sealer is used to repair the track.
That sealer is something the drivers can feel in the seat while running at such high speeds, and makes handling a challenge because the car will react differently when running over those seams.
With the four repaves this year, it marks the most repaving projects in one year for NASCAR. Last year, Daytona went under in one aspect an emergency repave based on the now infamous “pothole” in the 2010 Daytona 500. This year, the track had a repaving of the third turn because of Juan Pablo Montoya’s incident with the jet drier. Other famous tracks on the circuit have also gone to a repaved surface, namely Talladega, Charlotte and Darlington. Although Charlotte tried to, what’s the best word for what they did, grind the track to change the racing. Needless to say, the process failed, and new pavement has been put down.
Bristol is going into a repave because the new surface put down in 2007, with the progressive banking, has changed the track in a way many fans hated. So, owner Bruton Smith is ordering a new surface to go down, although it is unknown as to what the change will be.
The big thing to take away from this repaving process is that eventually, every track must go through it. Asphalt wears out over time due to age, weather, and other factors. It’s exactly like the tires on your own car or truck, because after so many miles, the time will come to replace them with new rubber.
One difference is the cost to replace four tires costs much less than it does to repave a 1.5-mile, or in some cases a 2.5-mile race track.
Come the fall, Kansas will be a different race track, and I’m sure it will come with a completely different setup for each team.
RESULTS: 1-Hamlin 2-Truex Jr. 3-Johnson 4-Kenseth 5-Biffle 6-Harvick 7-Earnhardt Jr. 8-Kahne 9-Edwards 10-Kyle Busch
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Stewart 21-Gordon 33-Martin
CAUTIONS: 3 for 18 laps. Lap 53-56 (#15 spins-T4), 133-141 (Debris-BS), 188-192 (Debris-T3 and T4).
LEAD CHANGES: 14 among 9 drivers. Allmendinger 1-44, Hamlin 45, Edwards 46, Truex Jr 47-91, Johnson 92-93, Kenseth 94, Montoya 95-96, Truex Jr. 97-177, Kenseth 178, Keselowski 179-180, Truex Jr. 181-223, Montoya 224-225, Hornish Jr. 226-232, Truex Jr. 233-236, Hamlin 237-267.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 46 Mins, 44 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 144.122 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.700 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Biffle, 312 points; 2. Truex Jr, -15; 3. Kenseth, -17; 4. Earnhardt Jr, -21; 5. Hamlin, -23; 6. Harvick, -25; 7. Johnson, -37; 8. Stewart, -47; 9. Edwards, -61; 10. Newman, -63; 11. Bowyer, -85; 12. Logano, -91