(photo courtesy Daytona International Speedway)
The repaving of the famous Daytona International Speedway is now complete and it is just a matter of a few days before NASCAR allows the first series of testing.
Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET, nearly 20 Sprint Cup teams are set to work with Goodyear officials and engineers on a two-day tire test to determine the best rubber compounds and tire construction for February’s Speedweeks.
Among the drivers tentatively scheduled to participate in the test are 2010 Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray and his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Montoya, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Matt Kenseth, Casey Mears, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Todd Bodine, Regan Smith, Reed Sorenson and Brian Keselowski.
The test is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday with a lunch break tentatively scheduled around noon. During Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Goodyear’s Rick Campbell said the test might be complete in one day, but NASCAR and the speedway have scheduled a media event at noon Thursday including several drivers and track, NASCAR and Goodyear officials.
During the test, the public has free access to a section of the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of the Daytona ticket office.
The repave, only the second since the track was built in 1958, began on July 5, two days after the midsummer Coke Zero 400 Cup race.
In the project’s 23rd week, the paving crew wrapped up the final pass on the apron in Turns 1 and 2 late Friday afternoon, following some morning inclement weather. While all the paving is complete on the racing surface, skid pad, pit road and the apron, there’s still a punch-list of items being worked on to get the speedway capable of holding the first of at least four test sessions that are scheduled before Speedweeks’ racing events.
Included on that list are finishing touches to the re-installation of the Musco stadium lighting, such as connectivity and adjustments of the lights; the striping of the track has begun and is ongoing; the process of hanging the eight caution lights around the track is ongoing; installation of the electronic “scoring loops” is ongoing; and finishing touches are being put on the catch fence in all four turns.
Lane Construction, which repaved other International Speedway Corporation race tracks including Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Darlington Raceway, used an estimated 50,000 tons of asphalt — prepared in a temporary facility installed behind the track’s backstretch — to repave more than 1.4 million square feet of the speedway.
Speedweeks 2011’s scheduled start is the 49th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race on Jan. 29-30. It ends with the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20, the prestigious season-opening event to the Cup season
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