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Racin’ News: Phoenix To Be Reconfigured

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 9 2011

Bulldozers will attack Phoenix International Raceway later this year. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

In racin’ news today, Wednesday, Feb. 9.:

Phoenix International Raceway will be getting a major facelift, track officials have announced.

PIR president Bryan R. Sperber offered details related to the NASCAR facility’s first major track paving project since 1990 on Wednesday.

Construction will begin in March with the removal of the facility’s current surface and the subsequent installation of a new surface to go with a series of changes designed to promote side-by-side racing.

While maintaining the integrity of PIR’s oval – including the 1-mile distance – the slight configuration changes will produce a racier track with average speeds that are expected to increase 2 to 3 miles per hour. The project is slated to conclude in September.

“When the time to repave PIR approached due to the life expectancy of our current racing surface, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to make a good thing even better for our fans,” Sperber said. “Our goal for this project was to not radically change a track that’s celebrated by fans and drivers alike, but to utilize new technology to ensure great moments in the next chapter of racing history at PIR.”

Aside from the installation of a new, four-layer asphalt and aggregate surface, PIR will make the following adjustments:

– Widen the front stretch from 52 to 62 feet

– Reconfigure pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls

–  Push the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet

– Tighten the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet

– Implement variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4

Project leader Bill Braniff, Senior Director of Construction for North American Testing Corporation (NATC) – a subsidiary of PIR’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation – said the conclusion to tweak PIR’s layout came after spending hundreds of man hours on computer simulations. PIR’s pavement project will be the seventh of its kind for Braniff, including last summer’s high-profile repave at Daytona International Speedway.

“We’re very confident that we’ll have multi-groove racing at Phoenix from Day 1 because of the variable banking that will be implemented,” Braniff said. “All of the changes – including the adjustment of the dog-leg – will be put in place in order to present additional opportunities for drivers to race side-by-side.”

The project will include the removal of 684,000 square feet of asphalt from the current surface, followed by the installation of a new surface that will include 7,000 cubic yards of concrete, 600,000 pounds of metal reinforcement, 70,000 cubic yards of import fill and 23,000 tons of new asphalt.

To commemorate the last 20 years of NASCAR competition on Phoenix International Raceway’s current surface, fans may vote for their favorite moment at PIR from 1990-2010 at PhoenixRaceway.com/moments. The top fan moment will be announced during the upcoming SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ race weekend and acknowledged during pre-race ceremonies.

The IZOD IndyCar Series announced that it will not return to Twin Ring Motegi in 2012.

The series will hold its final event at the 1.5-mile egg-shaped oval located north of Tokyo on Sept. 18, 2011.

“We’ve enjoyed a great run at Twin Ring Motegi and thank our friends at Mobilityland and HondaJapan for hosting a great event over the past eight years,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the

Helio Castroneves celebrates his IZOD IndyCar Series victory at Twin Ring Motegi in 2010. The series announced it will not return to the track in 2012. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

commercial division for INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series. “While our businesses move in different directions, we will keep the door open for future events at the track.

“As INDYCAR and the IZOD IndyCar Series continue to evaluate their long term plans, we must look to build the sport and its viewership. We believe it is important that the final few events on our schedule give us the opportunity to be broadcast live during times that maximize our viewing audience as we build up to the championship. We will continue to meet with promoters domestically and internationally that want to pursue an IZOD IndyCar Series event.”

Scott Sharp won the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi in 2003. The racetrack also was the site of Danica Patrick’s historic win in 2007. Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon are two-time winners of the 200-lap race, while Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan also have recorded victories. Castroneves has started from the pole four times, including in September 2010 when he went on to lead 153 laps and claim the victory.

It was the first international event added to the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Twin Ring Motegi, which opened in 1997 and is owned by Mobilityland Corp., played host to Champ Car events from 1998 to 2002.

(More news will be added to this story as it develops today)

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 9 2011
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