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Kentucky Speedway is one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. The track’s myriad bumps and persistent weepers during Camping World Truck, Xfinity and Sprint Cup Series action this weekend left many wondering when it would see a repave.
Well, don’t hold your breath. According to Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger, any repave or modifications to the asphalt may still be a few years off.
“We’ve got a track that certainly produced great races,” said Simendinger Sunday, the day after Kyle Busch’s triumph on the 1.5-mile track in Saturday’s Quaker State 400. “Normally you’d say, ‘Don’t touch those.’ But we also have a track that took us almost four hours to dry, so that’s not good.”
Now in its 15th season, Kentucky still has the original racing surface from its 2001 NASCAR debut. 15 years of harsh winters have left the track extremely bumpy, challenging to drive and even leading to physical illness for the competition. Drivers such as Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have reported back pain and headaches following long nights on track in Sparta.
All three races during the track’s tripleheader weekend contained solid competition; each race had a pass for the lead inside the final 30 laps. However, over six hours of practice were washed out throughout the weekend as a result of heavy rain and “weepers” — ground water rising up through the cracks in the old track surface.
Despite the issues, track officials are in no hurry to make a decision on future improvements.
“It was a very, very unusual situation as far as us being in the middle of July and having such saturated ground,” said Simendinger on the water problems. “We don’t want to overreact — we’ll let everything settle in and get feedback from our drivers and maintenance guys.”
Kentucky Speedway officials do have time to consider changes. The track doesn’t host another race until the Xfinity Series returns in September; the Cup Series won’t be back until next summer.