Kentucky Speedway announces changes for 2016


Kentucky Speedway announced Tuesday that it will undertake a multiple-point renovation of its 1.5-mile track, including a full repave, increased banking in Turns 1 and 2 and more energy-absorbing SAFER barrier.

The work, which includes improvements to the track’s drainage system, will be complete in time for its NASCAR weekend for all three national series July 7-9.

The repaving project will mark the first new asphalt for Kentucky Speedway since it opened with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in 2000. The track, which has hosted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races the last five years, had become known for its character-building bumps in the rough surface.

After the renovations are complete, Kentucky may be best known for it asymmetric layout. Turns 1 and 2 will increase their banking from 14 to 17 degrees, narrowing the racing groove in the process. Turns 3 and 4 will remain at their original 14 degrees.

“I am excited about the finished product as we wanted to present a unique challenge to the drivers,” project manager Steve Swift said, vice president of operations and development for parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. “This design, with Turns 1 and 2 completely different than 3 and 4 accomplishes that goal. The big winner will be the race fan.”

The track will also seek to improve safety with the addition of 3,200 feet of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction Barrier (SAFER) system, following the lead of several other tracks on the NASCAR schedule.

Kentucky also aims to combat drainage issues, specifically “weepers” where water burbles up through cracks in the racing surface. The drainage trouble hampered track-drying efforts during last year’s NASCAR tripleheader, which also featured a test day for the new reduced-downforce aero rules package that will be the base setup for the Sprint Cup Series this season.