Track president says drivers were ‘really supportive’ of changes

By Dominic Aragon
January 31, 2016

PHOENIX—Phoenix International Raceway track president Bryan Sperber said that the initial talks with NASCAR drivers spawned support of Monday’s announcement regarding upcoming changes to the 1.5 mile raceway.

Sperber said that, about a year ago, he had the chance to talk with “about 30” NASCAR drivers about the possible changes to the track.

“Everybody was really, really supportive,” Sperber said. “I think ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ were the words I heard the most.”

Representatives from International Speedway Corporation and Phoenix International Raceway announced Monday the track will undergo renovations valued at $178 million that will be ready in time for the track’s November 2018 NASCAR race weekend.

Changes will include a redesigned infield, a new garage ‘fan zone,’ new grandstands, a repositioned start/finish line and a new pedestrian tunnel connecting the infield to the new seating areas.

Sperber said what initially started as a concept turned into a five year working plan.

“We looked at a variety of different designs, and where we should put the grandstands, how should we approach the infield, and start/finish line,” he said.

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, was present at the announcement of changes to Phoenix International Raceway on Monday. The 26-year-old veteran from Middletown, CT gave his take on what the announced changes will bring to the fold.

“When you move that start/finish line to in between Turn 2 and the dog leg, that opens up a whole new can of worms for restarts,” he said.

“Right now, the way Phoenix is, on a restart, it's very narrow into Turn 1, and it doesn't really invite anyone to go three wide into the corner.”

Logano says that the new configuration will completely change the dynamics of restarts at Phoenix.

“You're going to restart going into, what is now Turn 3, that's the most wide corner that we have in the whole sport, and you don't even have to come back onto the racetrack.

“It's flat all the way across it, so, you're going to restart, you're going to go down below the dog [leg], cut the dog leg off like we typically do, and we're going to be four wide going into Turn 3, which will be Turn 1 then. It's confusing, I know." Renderings courtesy of Phoenix International Raceway.

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