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Daytona paving begins
And so it begins.

The mammoth task of yanking out all the old asphalt then putting down 50,000 tons of new blacktop started Monday at Daytona International Speedway.

Three crews worked between Turns 3 and 4. One group was removing the catch fence. Another was taking down the SAFER barriers. The third was pulling light poles located outside the fence.

By the middle of Monday afternoon, most of the towering light poles at the east end of the track had been pulled and were ready to be hauled away to a storage area outside the 2.5-mile tri-oval facility.

Speedway officials expect actual work with the racetrack surface to begin in about two weeks, depending on weather, equipment and other variables.

The fencing, barriers and light poles must come down in order to use the pavement equipment on the 31-degree banking.

"They are definitely getting after it," Speedway president Robin Braig said Monday. "Every day it's not raining, we're going to be getting after this project.

"For them to have the lights, fence and barriers down halfway around Turn 3 on the first day is amazing to me."

The extensive project, which will last through Jan. 1 and cost about $20 million, was ordered by the International Speedway Corporation's board of directors after February's Daytona 500 was delayed more than two hours because of a pothole opening up in Turns 1 and 2.

There were no pothole issues during Saturday's Coke Zero 400, the last race on the old surface.

ISC owns Daytona and 11 other major racing facilities across the country. DIS is the flagship of the company.

Bill Braniff, the senior engineer at North American Testing Corporation, is project manager. He has made camp in a small office space Lane Construction now occupies inside the track.

"The band is back together again," Braniff said with a laugh.

Braniff and Lane Construction have worked together on several major ISC paving jobs, including Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

"So far, so good," said Braniff, who is orchestrating the massive undertaking. "This job requires a lot of preparation. We got the right team assembled and we are off and running."

Braniff said the crews working now are "getting in the rhythm."

"And that will be it for those crews for the next two or three weeks," he added. "They have that much time to get all that stuff down." newsjournal-online.com

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