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What’s Going On With Iowa Speedway’s Repave?

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR headed to Iowa Speedway on Tuesday for a Goodyear tire test in preparation for the inaugural Cup Series race at the track on June 16. However, drivers and fans alike were horrified to see that the bottom lanes in turns one and two, and turns three and four were repaved. Here is what the drivers had to say, and why they repaved the track.

  • Repaves are notoriously unpopular with drivers and fans alike. The smooth surface often leads to single-groove racing with minimal tire wear. This creates limited passing opportunities.
  • The partial repave of Iowa Speedway came as a surprise to pretty much everyone. However, another series that runs at the track might have played a role in the repave at Iowa Speedway.
  • Fans were dismayed to see the repave of Iowa Speedway. They were excited to see what kind of racing the progressive banking and worn-out surface would put on, but, that’s all gone now.

What Drivers Had to Say

Three drivers (one from each manufacturer) showed up in Iowa to participate in the tire test. Each of them expressed their thoughts on the repave.

Kyle Larson was first up. He was upset that Iowa was repaved for the Cup Series cars, but, he does think the track retained at least some of its’ character.

This place had a lot of character, really bumpy, weathered pavement, old pavement which usually produces great racing. Apparently, I don’t know, must have looked like it was time, or at least NASCAR thought it was time to repave it. So, they did, and, yeah, it’s a bummer for all of us. I think it’ll still be a good race and a faster paced race, but, [the track]’s still got some character…

Kyle Larson

Larson later spoke on how the repave will impact the racing product and the lines drivers will run. With only one or two newly paved sections in each corner, it seems the drivers will look for that “Grip strip” as they say.

With repaves, usually it’s got a lot of grip, so, just end up taking the shortest distance. Once you get more cars here, there’s only 3 of us running [for the test], so, it’s going to be hard to move it up. Once you get 40 of us here, I think it’ll open up some other lanes, but, it’ll still be difficult to pass because the pace is so fast.

Kyle Larson

Christopher Bell also spoke to the media following the test. The two-time Xfinity Series winner at Iowa echoed Kyle Larson’s sentiments.

Iowa was a place that was a low-grip track before, and you could move all over the place and really pass guys. I’m a little bit worried now that the pace is going to be really fast, and it’s going to be hard to pass… I loved the old track, and I love Iowa Speedway. It’s still Iowa Speedway and that’s good, but, I really wish the Cup cars got to experience the old pavement for sure.

Christopher Bell

While Bell and Larson both strongly opposed the repave, Keselowski was a bit more optimistic about it. The inaugural Iowa Xfinity Series race winner (2009) gave some insight into a large bump in the middle of turns one and two that could have influenced NASCAR’s decision to repave.

A lot [changed] with the track surface. It used to have this really wicked tunnel bump down in [turns] and and two, and now that’s been kind of taken care of which is nice because the Next-Gen car doesn’t really play well with bumps kind of like an IndyCar. But, I think it’ll make the car more raceable.

Brad Keselowski

Why Would NASCAR Repave?

Repaves are a necessary evil with race tracks. They all have to happen at some point, but, they’re not exactly fun for any reason that Bell and Larson named off. Fresh repaves tend to create single groove race tracks with little tire wear until the track gets seasoned.

There are a couple of factors to consider with this Iowa repave. First, the track has not been repaved since it was first built in 2006, meaning it’s had the same surface for 18 years. Secondly, Iowa is further North, meaning the winters can be quite harsh on pavement.

However, Brad Keselowski mentioned the bumps, and that’s the biggest concern. If he believes the bumps were too severe for the Next-Gen car to handle, then, the track needed to be repaved. Keep in mind that the underwing of the Next-Gen car is just a few inches from the ground, as can be seen in the video below.

So, if the bumps were too severe and posed a safety/costs threat to the cars, then, NASCAR had to repave it. As unfortunate as that is given how much potential a race on an old, worn out, progressively banked surface that Iowa had.

The strangest thing here is that the repave only effected the bottoms of the corners. NASCAR decided not to go all the way with a repave.

This is not necessarily unprecedented. Darlington Raceway repaved a portion of turn two before the 2021 Southern 500, but, that was a short section of the turn. The track retained most of its’ character.

Bell referred to the post-repave Iowa as a “Whole new race track”.

The closest comparison to this repave is probably the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro. The track filled in patches of the old asphalt with new asphalt, forcing drivers to search for the “Grip strips”, which created a single groove track.

Compare that to 2024 North Wilkesboro, where the new surface and variable banking saw drivers racing all over the race track in multiple grooves. Iowa already has variable banking built in, so, at least that could have created multiple grooves if the entire track was repaved.

Who wasn’t the entire track repaved? NASCAR didn’t say. It’s possible they didn’t want to repave the rest of the track if it didn’t necessarily “need” a new surface. Still, patch jobs like have a spotty track record.

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