Darlington Raceway has repaved Turn 2 in preparation for its NASCAR races on Labor Day weekend, track president Kerry Tharp told NBC Sports on Friday morning.
Tharp said the portion of the track repaved had underlying cracks that allowed water to seep in.
“We were finding that over the last few years that we were having to go in there and do some patching … before the event almost every year,” Tharp said. “Now that we have two (Cup) events, we brought in what I would say is the best of the best when it comes to asphalt experts … and really took a hard look at Turn 2.”
Tharp said analysis was done in late winter. It was determined that more work needed to be done to that area of the track than patching it.
“Over time, these little fixes that we were doing, it’s just kind of like putting a little Band-Aid on something,” he said. “After a while, that Band-Aid is not going to work very well. We felt we needed to go in there and do this after the May event.”
Work started in July. The repave took about three weeks and was completed last weekend. Tharp said SAFER barriers are being put back in place in that corner.
Tharp said the banking and the geometry of the corner remain the same. He said there are no plans to drag tires or do anything else to surface before the NASCAR races next month. Manufacturer representatives are scheduled to examine the track Monday. The project was done in consultation with NASCAR competition officials and Goodyear officials.
“The drivers, for the most part, like racing here, I really think they do,” Tharp told NBC Sports. “I think they’re going to continue to like racing here. I think the fans will see a good show Labor Day weekend.”
The Cook Out Southern 500 opens the Cup playoffs at 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 5 on NBCSN. It is preceded by the In It To Win It 200 Camping World Truck Series race at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 5 on FS1.
The weekend starts Sept. 4 with the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200 Xfinity race at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 4 on NBCSN.