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Kentucky Set for Renovations Ahead of 2016 NASCAR Events

The 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway will be repaved in addition to Turns 1 and 2 being reconfigured ahead of the July 7-9 NASCAR race weekend, officials announced Tuesday.

Along with Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway, the track currently has one of oldest surfaces on the schedule. It has not been repaved since opening in 2000.

In addition to a fresh coat of asphalt, the facility plans to increase the banking in Turns 1 and 2 from 14 to 17 degrees, improve the drainage system, as well as add 3,200 feet of SAFER barrier.

By reconfiguring the first set of corners and narrowing the racing surface from 74 to 56 feet, speedway officials plan to provide “an exciting challenge to the drivers while addressing issues of the track surface,” general manager Mark Simendinger said.

The final two corners will not be adjusted, creating two distinct sets of turns that will require two different approaches from drivers.

The changes will “present a unique challenge to the drivers. This design, with Turns 1 and 2 completely different than 3 and 4, accomplishes that goal. The big winner will be the race fans,” according to project coordinator and Vice President of Operations and Development for Speedway Motorsports Inc., Steve Swift.

The project will be completed ahead of the Kentucky’s sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and triple-header weekend in July.

@KyleBusch won the inaugural Quaker State 400 in 2011 and claimed victory again last July. The win tied him with Brad @Keselowski for most Sprint Cup Series wins at the facility. @MattKenseth is the only other race winner as he captured the trophy in 2013.

Through the years, the old and bumpy surface has become a favorite among fans and drivers as a result of the unique style of racing it creates. While some may wish to keep the current surface, track operators likely disagree. Weepers caused lengthy delays last year, including canceling some practice and qualifying sessions. This prompted change ahead of NASCAR’s return.

A new challenge awaits competitors in July as the speedway famous for its abrasiveness will have a completely new look and feel. As the start of the new season lurks around the corner, Kentucky can be added to the list of highly anticipated events in 2016.

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By Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.