New Richmond Asphalt Gets "Thumbs Up" at Goodyear Test RICHMOND, VA 4/28/04 - The reviews are in and it's "thumbs up" all the way around. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Terry Labonte visited ...
New Richmond Asphalt Gets "Thumbs Up" at Goodyear Test
RICHMOND, VA 4/28/04 - The reviews are in and it's "thumbs up" all the way around.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Terry Labonte visited Richmond International Raceway yesterday and today to test the track's new racing surface. Raceway officials installed a new drainage system underneath the track, but preserved all of the unique characteristics during the repaving process that make Richmond International Raceway a driver and fan favorite.
"It's definitely the same Richmond," Harvick said. "Number one, the track is super smooth and they did a great job of repaving it. The bumps in turn two are gone and it's really grippy."
"It's got the same characteristics of 'the old' Richmond," Newman said. "It's different, but a good different-the bumps are gone in turn two and the track is really smooth. The biggest thing that changes the racing is the banking and where the walls are placed and none of that has changed. It drives the same, the walls are in the same spot and the SAFER barriers are there, so we're in good shape. The track will have more grip, but I don't think that is going to change the racing that much."
That's good news for both drivers and fans, as Richmond International Raceway is known for its tremendous side-by-side racing. "It's a lot of fun to race on, it's kind of like the ultimate short track," Harvick said. "It not so small that you can't pass on it and you don't have to beat, bang and tear your stuff all up like other short tracks. You can pass and move around and do what you need to do to race."
Despite the new asphalt, the ¾-mile d-shaped track has maintained all of the same features, including 14 degrees of banking in the turns, eight degrees of banking on the frontstretch and two degrees of banking on the backstretch.
Goodyear officials also were pleased with the test session. Lead Engineer Mark Keto indicated that the "Bristol" tire would be used at Richmond International Raceway this season. Keto explained that the tire is a harder compound than what is normally used at Richmond, but it is a good choice because the racing surface now has more grip and will generate more heat.
Testing continues at Richmond International Raceway May 3-6 with drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Elliott Sadler, Ward Burton, Ricky Rudd, Ricky Craven, Brian Vickers, Jimmy Spencer, Rusty Wallace, Brendan Gaughan, Jamie McMurray, Johnny Benson, Bobby Hamilton, Jr., David Stremme, Paul Menard, Jay Sauter, Justin Labonte, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley, Kyle Busch, Regan Smith and Eric McClure.
The grandstand gates will be open to the public May 3-6 and the media is invited May 4-5 to interview the drivers over the lunch break beginning at 11:30 a.m. For more information, contact the Richmond International Raceway public relations office at 804-228-7516.
The official start of racing season at Richmond International Raceway begins with the Funai 250 NASCAR Busch Series race on Friday, May 14 and the sold out Chevy American Revolution 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Saturday, May 15. For information, fans can visit www.rir.com or call 1-866-455-RACE (7223).