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Is NASCAR Going Too Far by Paving the Backstretch at Daytona?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Earlier this week, Daytona International Speedway announced that they would be paving the apron on the second half of the backstretch. However, not everyone seemed to be a fan of this change. Did NASCAR take it a step too far? Here is a look at what fans had to say.

  • NASCAR made this change after Ryan Preece flipped in the backstretch grass at Daytona in the summer of 2023.
  • NASCAR tracks have generally been using more asphalt than grass to surround race tracks in recent years. Sometimes, grass can cause damage to race cars along with worsening violent flips.
  • Not every fan likes having that much asphalt off of the racing surface. Not everyone is convinced that it helps, and it could have negative effects on other series at Daytona.

Does It Really Prevent Flips?

There was a healthy amount of debate about whether or not removing grass actually helps to prevent flips. Some believe that the grass makes little to no difference, but, others feel that it will have an impact on the racing.

KitchenBanger points out that the grass may not have necessarily caused Preece’s flip. While KitchenBanger did admit that Preece digging into the grass was not fun to watch, it did not cause the flip.

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kk5fan97 offers a counter-argument. He mentioned how it’s more about preventing barrel rolls instead of flipping. He points out how the grass caused Preece to violently barrel-roll, and other flips on asphalt were not quite as violent as Preece’s.

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Gullible_Goose also agrees that the grass was the reason why Preece’s crash was so violent. He points out how the car dug into the grass on the backstretch.

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TheOrangeFutbol points out how this is not a new idea in motorsports. He mentions the example of the tragic death of Greg Moore, and how Auto Club Speedway paved the backstretch after that violent flip in the late 1990s.

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So, which one is right? The video below shows the Ryan Preece flip. The flip started about when Preece hit the grass, and digging into the grass caused some of those violent flips. Maybe the grass was not the reason for the wreck, but, there is reason to believe that the grass did cause some issues.

There are also instances of flips happening on asphalt, so, removing grass does not totally eliminate flips. For example, Elliott Sadler flipped at Talladega in 2003, and the violent barrel roll happened entirely on asphalt after he skidded through the grass. Would removing grass solve all of the problems?

Why Not Just Put in Artificial Turf?

Many people asked whether or not Daytona should put in artificial turf instead of just repaving everything. This could help make everything look a little bit nicer according to a few. Charlotte Motor Speedway put turf on their infield a few years ago, so, it is not unprecedented.

Furrynoy96 was one of those who asked to put artificial turf in instead of grass.

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Windoes_95 wants to either have turf put in or see the asphalt painted green to make it look aesthetically better.

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GingerMessiah88 mentions that a track would look “soulless” without grass.

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However, Bob Pockrass explained why NASCAR decided against adding artificial turf. He mentions many complications that would arise from adding turf instead of just paving it.

Turf may look nice, but, would it actually be practical? Pockrass calls that into question because of issues such as cost and adaptability. Not only that, but Charlotte, which has turf on its’ front stretch had a flip because of Chris Buescher digging into the turf in 2022.

How it Affects the Rolex 24

lightsisqueen believes that this is a problem for the Rolex 24. He believes that paving the backstretch “Ruins the fun of the bus stop.” The lack of grass at the bus stop makes it more forgiving if drivers make mistakes.

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LegalConsequence7960 specifically mentions track limits as a concern when asphalt is added to road courses. When asphalt is off the track instead of grass, drivers are more incentivized to push the track limits.

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It’s no secret that more asphalt gives drivers more liberty in terms of track limits. This late restart at Watkins Glen in 2022 is one example of how far drivers will take track limits if they are allowed to in some form or fashion.

However, does this really “Ruin” road course racing? The Charlotte Roval has some measures put in place to prevent this type of issue on the backstretch bus stop, very similar to the Daytona Road Course. There are tire barriers and kerbs put in place to prevent drivers from overshooting the turn. There is also a penalty for anyone who overshoots the turn. There are ways to counteract the issues created by no grass in the runoff.

Is NASCAR overreacting by doing this? There are plenty of detractors to adding asphalt, but, it overall seems like the best possible solution given all of the information.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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