Three tracks to be repaved in 2012
Three tracks that host NASCAR race weekends are on schedule with repaving projects that will all be completed in time to run events on the new surfaces this season, according to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition and racing development.
"We have three repaves coming up this year," Pemberton said. "Michigan is done. It was completed before the end of the  season. Pocono will be finished in the spring, depending on the weather. And Kansas will be repaved in between the two races. Kansas is the only one that, on paper, will change the bank angle [slightly]."
Pemberton said the next issue to be determined regarding the tracks once the new surfaces are completed is when and how to hold tests there before actual events are run on them again.
"There are varying opinions on what works best," Pemberton said. "We know economically that signing in the day before [a race weekend] works best. But there are varying opinions as far as what's best for the show and what's best for the teams as far as performance. And that's why we haven't settled on any of the test dates yet.
"We also haven't settled on what tires will be built for those [tracks] yet. It takes at the bare minimum 45 days for Goodyear to make tires that will give you enough to have even a single-day test."
With those considerations in mind, Pemberton added that much has yet to be determined concerning the potential test dates.
"Kansas more than likely will be the day before we sign in [prior to the second race weekend]. With Michigan and Pocono, it all depends on what is available," Pemberton said. "We're still talking to the teams about what might work best for them."
Pemberton added that in addition to repaving the 2.5-mile tri-oval at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., there have been several safety improvements completed or in the process of being made to that oft-criticized facility, as well. Pemberton visited the site just last week.
"It looks great. They're doing a great job. They've laid 7 1/2 miles of drainage underneath the race track," Pemberton said. "What they've milled off, they've used some of that asphalt to pave some of the access roads to the infield campgrounds, to help with all that parking. On pit road, they've installed new concrete stalls and they've done a nice job with their run-off areas and their SAFER barrier areas. We'll see what happens when they put the final two coats down, but it looks pretty good right now."
Pemberton also said safety improvements have been tackled this offseason at Watkins Glen International, the 2.45-mile road course located in upstate New York
"We've worked on Turns 1 and 2 at the Glen," Pemberton said. "The runoff areas have been extended The approach to the outside guardrail has been opened up as it gets down into Turn 2. The fence has been moved behind the guardrail, and there is an area in there to allow for compression after a hit. The tire barriers have been relocated, so if you have a perpendicular hit coming off Turn 1 you'll have more tire barriers there."
Race weekends are slated for this June 15-17 and Aug. 17-19 at Michigan; April 20-22 and Oct. 19-21 at Kansas; and June 8-10 and Aug. 3-5 at Pocono. The lone Watkins Glen race weekend will be held Aug. 10-12. nascar.com