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How Does Dover’s Concrete Surface Change the Racing Strategy?

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What’s Happening?

Dover Motor Speedway is one of three NASCAR tracks to feature a 100% concrete racing surface. While being unique, how does a concrete surface impact the actual racing product at Dover? We take a look at that today.

  • Dover Motor Speedway was repaved with concrete in 1995, the second Cup Series track to be completely paved with the surface. The track builds its’ entire brand around its surface, with its nickname the “Monster Mile” and its mascot “Miles the Monster”, a concrete monster.
  • Concrete surfaces feature incredible durability. However, do they impact races any more than just being the more durable surface? Do they impact things like tire wear or the racing groove throughout the weekend?
  • Fans enjoy having the different elements added by a concrete racing surface. It makes tracks a bit more unique, and it at least makes for a fun sales pitch.

The Benefits and Detractors of Racing on Concrete

Before we see how concrete affects the racing, we need to understand the nature of a concrete racing surface. The main draw of a concrete racing surface is how long it lasts. Whereas asphalt surfaces degrade quite quickly in comparison, concrete is an incredibly hard surface that can withstand far more punishment.

Dover has not been repaved since concrete was added in 1995, and the only issue with the surface came in 2014. A pothole that might be a death sentence for an asphalt surface was patched up on the concrete surface at Dover with no issues since.

The issue with concrete is costs. According to Economy Paving a concrete driveway can cost twice as much as asphalt. While not a race track, it showcases how much concrete can cost. This adds in another factor of whether or not concrete’s cost is worth it with a better racing product.

How Concrete Changes the Racing Product

Overall, the concrete surface does not change the racing product at Dover that much, but, the surface does affect how drivers and crew chiefs set up and strategize for the race.

Dr Diandra explained some of these differences on back in 2012. Concrete being a much harder, and more durable surface means it does not wear out as quickly as asphalt does. The concrete is also a lighter color, which means it does not absorb heat as quickly as asphalt does. The result, according to Dr Diandra, is that concrete does not change as much during the race as asphalt does.

For example, look at a typical Coca-Cola 600 race. The track changes significantly as it transitions from daytime to evening and into the nighttime. In 2022, the Coca-Cola 600 saw different drivers win each stage, and 5 different drivers leading at each 100-mile marker during the race.

Dover does not go through as drastic of a change, so, there’s that much more incentive for drivers to hit the setup on race day. If they fail to hit it, they cannot count on the track changing to suit the setup.

Dover Motor Speedway’s concrete surface means that getting the setup right during practice could be critical to having a good weekend. If a driver is off to start the race, they need to make major adjustments to the car itself instead of counting on the track.

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Joshua Lipowski

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