TALLADEGA, Ala. - Talladega Superspeedway will be repaved next year, the first time since 1979, and several drivers say they're looking forward to a smoother ride.
Drivers have complained about the track, saying the uneven surface takes a toll on springs and other chassis parts and makes the bumper-to-bumper racing even more harrowing. The track surface had settled in several spots and asphalt patches have raised the surface in other areas.
The repaving project will begin after the Aaron's 499, which is set for April 30, track spokeswoman Kristi King said. It will be finished before the UAW-Ford 500 in the fall.
It will include complete asphalt repaving of the 2.66-mile tri-oval track, the apron and pit road. Track officials would not disclose the estimated cost.
The track opened in 1969 and was resurfaced twice over the next 10 years, but has only been patched since then.
Dale Jarrett, who won the UAW Ford 500 in October at the track, said the new surface was needed.
"Talladega's surface is one that the weather and other things have taken a toll on over the years," he said. "Putting a new surface down should make the racing even more exciting."
He said the present surface limits drivers and a new surface "will make for some good side-by-side racing."
Track President Grant Lynch agrees with Jarrett.
"Twenty-six years has certainly been a long time to go without necessitating a project this extensive, so there is no question that the time has come for us to repave," he said. "It will ensure that Talladega Superspeedway continues to uphold its reputation for the most exciting, most competitive racing throughout the entire NASCAR circuit for years to come."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., a five-time winner at Talladega, noted that the track was last repaved the year his father won Rookie of the Year.
"So the new asphalt will definitely make for much smoother and more competitive racing," Earnhardt said.