With Watkins Glen International repaving the entire racing surface after this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series event, many have called on NASCAR to run ‘the boot’ section of the track utilized by many of the sports car series that also run the facility.
The current layout run by NASCAR does not utilize the nearly one-mile section of track between Turns 6 through 9. The stock cars have never used the boot section of the track.
Talking with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Tuesday morning, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said he believes running the boot is something the sanctioning body is looking to do in the future, but it may not happen next season.
“It’s one of those ideas that’s been out there. We’ve kicked it around with (track president) Michael Printup,” O’Donnell told “The Morning Drive.” “It’s never come to that final conclusion, but I think as you look forward that is certainly something we can consider. For those that have been up there, you know it’s a challenge with sight lines and being able to see that area (of the track), but the way Michael is bringing folks in and what TV is able to do now, I think there’s the opportunity to work together and maybe make that a reality down the road.”
In terms of repaving the entire facility, O’Donnell said the sanctioning body works very closely with tracks when a repave is considered. While drivers often bemoan track repaves, this will be the first time Watkins Glen has updating the racing surface since 1998.
“Any time a surface is going to be repaved we’ve got to know almost at least a year in advance — and we will,” said O’Donnell. “We’ve got to work with Goodyear on the tires that will be prepared for that race, they may be different. Obviously the track surfaces change — when you look at a Darlington before and after, Talladega is the same. We’ll work closely with Goodyear. You’ll certainly hear from the industry, particularly the drivers. When the word ‘repave’ comes up, it’s not usually a good word.
“We feel like a worn-in racetrack puts on the best racing, for the most part, so what we’ve got to do then is match the tire from a wear standpoint based on the newness of the facility’s asphalt,’ he said. “It’s really a balance for us to kind of almost put new asphalt on and get it where it’s 10 years in, and that’s tough to do, but that’s the goal.”