It's been a big year for Kansas Speedway. When plans for a casino to be built overlooking turn two were approved, the track got a second Cup date for 2011 (June 5). And even though the track is only 10 years old, it may soon need to be repaved.
And it has also undergone something which few other tracks hosting major events have undergone – brutal Heartland weather conditions that aggressively attack asphalt surfaces.
[Kansas Speedway vice president of operations Darren] Cook said that the freeze-and-thaw cycle in the Heartland has issued a beating to the Kansas Speedway surface. He also said that low quality materials and a “less than ideal job” during construction may have contributed to a deterioration of joints in the asphalt.
“The fact of the matter is, the asphalt these days is just not as good of a quality than it was,” Cook said. “You see 35-year-old asphalt roads that hold up well but they were constructed at a time with all the asphalt cement that’s in there still contains some extremely good materials that are taken out of asphalt today.”
Last year, drivers were talking about how the tar strips that essentially divide the track into fourths would upset the handling of the cars. Kurt Busch even dubbed the strips the "tar of death." That tar was in response to the weathering of the surface.
But when that repave takes place, the track structure of the track isn't going to stay the same, a la Daytona. Instead, Kansas is looking at progressive banking, which has been installed at Homestead and Las Vegas.
However, the pre-progressive banking races at Homestead and Las Vegas were considered snooze-inducing. The first couple of races at Kansas weren't the best, but that weathered track has also meant that the groove has widened, allowing for three different lines in the corners over the last few years.
“Everybody has saw (how the racing has improved at Kansas over the years) and we don’t want to take that away,” Cook said. “You don’t want to get to antsy with a repair and resurface, and you don’t to go back to single-file racing. There is a good chance if we go back (and repave), the thing that we would want to create is a surface that would immediately encourage side-by-side racing and not single-file racing.
And one thing that's not working in Kansas' favor is that second race. Because of the cold winters -- especially compared to Daytona -- the window to do a repave is pretty small. Track officials haven't decided if construction would happen in the winter or between the two races.
What do you think? Do you enjoy the progressive banking at Vegas and Homestead or would you like to keep Kansas the way it is, even if it meant a couple years of dull races?