Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: Is this Heaven? No, This Is Iowa

Repavings are always a hot button topic when it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series.

Fans are still talking about Atlanta’s new/old repave and some racetracks are even being ripped up entirely (see Auto Club for reference).

The past few weeks, though, another track has taken some heat (and praise) for repaving, even if the track took an unconventional route in doing so.

When fans talk about race tracks being repaved, they usually mean really large or entire sections of the track. At ovals, a repave usually means all the way around the track, such as with Atlanta.

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Road courses are a bit different, though. Those tracks tend to repave areas like heavy braking and acceleration zones, similarly to what Circuit of the Americas did before this year’s NASCAR weekend in Austin.

The group over at Iowa Speedway, however, somehow managed to do both and neither of those things simultaneously.

For those fans that may be unaware what they are looking at in that photo, that is exactly what turns 3-4 of Iowa Speedway look like right now as of a Goodyear tire test held at the track this past week.

The track has been repaved in the corners of the 7/8 mile oval in hopes that it will create more grip through those turning sections. However, fans and drivers alike typically aren’t fans of repaves done in this fashion as it more times than not results in single file racing with little to no tire falloff.

Drivers like Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson were present for the tire test and gave some of their opinions on the new-look Iowa Speedway.

“This place had a lot of character,” said Larson. “It really bummed me (when they repaved it). You know, (it was) weathered pavement, old pavement, which usually produces great racing.”

Larson went on to say that despite the repave, the track did still hold a bit of its character. However, the notorious bump that Iowa is famed for over the tunnel is gone, according to the Chevy driver.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell was open about the fact that he personally wasn’t a fan of the repave at all.

“No (I didn’t like it),” said Bell. “I wish they wouldn’t have had to redo it … It just adds a lot of grip to the racetrack, and Iowa was a place that was a low grip track before, and you could move around 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 harder to pass.”

That’s not a lot of high praise from some of the sport’s finest, and understandably so. However, fans of the sport often forget that at one point, every track has new pavement. It isn’t until that new pavement gets worn in that the ideal racing situation is reached. Atlanta had one of the most infamous repaves of recent memory, but anyone would be hard pressed to find a fan that didn’t enjoy that race earlier this year or doesn’t have that date circled on their calendar for later in the season.

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Fans may not be in for the treat that the June 16 race back at Iowa was expected to be just yet. But with a few more dates on the schedule and a fresh surface to break in, the track could very well be on its way back to its prime as one of the most unpredictable circuits on the schedule.

All it may take is a little patience, grace and a few thousand miles of racing to get it there.

About the author


Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for Sports Illustrated’s Cowbell Corner, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Mass Media Studies. Tanner began working with Frontstretch as an Xfinity Series columnist in 2022.

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I’d rather the tracks did partial repaves rather than the full track at once. Big patches of different ages of asphalt would allow the track to keep some character while fixing obvious trouble spots. I guess the worry is you’d be creating a lot more seams where the track could just get more damage. Still I remember a few years back when Darlington just repaved most of turn 2 without telling anyone and the drivers were like WTF but I don’t think anyone complains about that anymore.

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