News & Media

Head2Head: Does Phoenix Int'l Raceway need to be repaved?

February 28, 2011, ,

Jeff Gordon hadn't even left the track yet and the bulldozers were already hard at work. Immediately following the Cup race, Phoenix International Raceway began its repaving project.

Does Phoenix International Raceway need to be repaved?


Excuse Bill Kimm. He simply doesn't know. As the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Hiking Club, or any random Gila monster can tell you, the Sonoran Desert is an inhospitable place. Those of us who've served our time there -- and I have the empty sunscreen tubes and water bottles to prove it -- know the Valley of the Sun is an often-blistering locale that can test the limits of any living thing.

Asphalt may not be living, but it comes close in the way it breathes and bends and gets beaten by the elements. After two decades of baking in the sun, the pavement at Phoenix is due for a break. So before any Daytona-like gouges sprout in a surface that's already patched up like an old pair of jeans, break out the jackhammers and get to work on a new coat of asphalt that will extend the life of one of NASCAR's best tracks.

I understand that repaving makes some people jumpy. But let's be honest -- we in NASCAR see Phoenix at its most temperate, not during the rest of the year when it's hot enough to make horned lizards spontaneously combust. What kind of toll does that take on a track surface? Turn your oven to about 200 degrees, stick a brick in there, and check on it again in 10 months.

So don't be afraid of repaving PIR. A new surface, a tighter dogleg, and a wider groove will be the result. Don't believe me? Hike out there and take a look. Just bring plenty of sunscreen and water. And watch out for the Gila monsters.

David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

I get that tracks need to be repaved -- it's a necessary evil in motorsports. But I live by the motto: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." And the racing that I saw Sunday at Phoenix shows the track is anything but broken.

What a fantastic race. The Cup race Sunday had phenomenal action in the beginning -- as Phoenix almost always offers, and then when the field thinned out, some great side-by-side action along with exciting position battles. Pave Phoenix and all that goes away.

When NASCAR returns in November, for the penultimate race of the season by the way, it's all a crap shoot. The drivers and teams won't know how the tires will react; won't know how the cars will handle; heck, they are even changing the layout of the track meaning PIR will look nothing like it did Sunday.

The sad thing is, the track is in great shape. Phoenix has character. There is a style to Phoenix that isn't seen anywhere else on the circuit. The track has spent 20 years building up its personality -- and now that's all gone.

And I'm not alone. Jimmie Johnson and others in the garage have voiced their concern about repaving the 1-mile facility.

Repaving is part of this sport, there's no getting around it. But why not wait until its necessary? Right now Phoenix is gambling. How much will the racing change? I guess we will all find out right before crowning this year's champions.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

The 20-year-old surface is being repaved, and will have a new look when NASCAR returns in November with variable banking added and the dogleg being extended. After a successful race weekend, does PIR really need all these changes? David Caraviello and Bill Kimm have their thoughts -- read theirs and weigh in with yours in the comments below. And don't forget to vote for whose argument you agree with more in the poll at the right.