Racing beat

| March 07, 2006

Sprague holds the most records in the history of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and is the only three-time series champion – 1997, 1999 and 2001. His records include winning the most poles – 28 total – the most Top-Five and Top-10 finishes, most miles completed, miles led and most races finished on the lead lap. He is second on the all-time win list with 25 trips to victory lane.

New Look for Talladega
Talladega Superspeedway is repaving its track, a project that will be ready in time for the October Nextel Cup event. It will include complete asphalt repaving of the 2.66-mile tri-oval track, apron and pit road.

A portable asphalt plant was mobilized to the site in December, and on-site work began in February, when trial batches of the asphalt pavement were produced and asphalt test strips constructed on superspeedway property. Engineers also began formulation of asphalt mix designs and designing the required equipment modifications in December. The repaving project will begin immediately following the April 28-30, 2006 Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega.

“Twenty-six years has certainly been a long time to go without necessitating a project this extensive, so there is no question that the time has come for us to repave. It will ensure that Talladega Superspeedway continues to uphold its reputation for the most exciting, most competitive racing throughout the entire NASCAR circuit for years to come,” says Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch. “If our track history is any indication, it will increase the level of competitiveness. The first race held here after our last repaving project was one of the most exciting on the record books.”

This will be the fourth paving project for Talladega Superspeedway, with the first being the actual construction of the track for its opening in September 1969, which was followed by a repaving project completed in time for the 1970 season. The third and most recent paving was completed at the conclusion of the 1979 racing season. When drivers tested and practiced on the new surface prior to the May 4, 1980 race, they gave it rave reviews – pointing out how the new, smooth surface greatly enhanced drafting and overall handling ability. The result was one of the most exciting races and dramatic finishes yet at the still-young superspeedway. A dozen drivers swapped the lead 40 times, and Buddy Baker took his fourth Talladega Superspeedway victory in that event, winning by just 3 feet after crossing the line side-by-side with Dale Earnhardt.

Several top NASCAR Nextel Cup Series drivers say the project comes as no surprise considering the age of the existing surface, and that the new surface will likely make the racing even more exciting at the legendary superspeedway.

“Everyone should be able to hold it wide-open all the way around the whole day. The fastest car will rise to the top,” says defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart. “Repaving is something you’ve got to do every now and then. It’s part of what racing is all about. And in Talladega’s case, to go that many years without having to repave a race track is pretty impressive.

“It shows how good a job Talladega Superspeedway has done of maintaining their facility and their race track. I’m pretty impressed with what they’ve been able to do. Hopefully this new surface will last them another 30 or 40 years.”

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