Why Five Flags Needed a Partial Repave Before the Snowball Derby

The new pavement extends from the frontstretch into Turn 1

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Tim Bryant doesn’t want too much made of the partial repave of Five Flags Speedway before the Snowball Derby and he expects it will do little to alter the racing product.

A section of pavement came apart during the event on Oct. 2 and that necessitated a half hour delay to temporarily seal the racing surface. Bryant ordered a partial repaving of the frontstretch on Oct. 21. The new surface begins shortly after the exit of Turn 4 and ends just before the entry to Turn 1.

Bryant took immediate action to prevent a disruption or potential race altering event during the 54th Snowball Derby.

"It was just a preventative maintenance program, really," Bryant said. "With the exorbitant amount of rain that we had over the summer, the base of the front straightaway became compromised a little bit. There are going to be a lot of cars turning a lot of laps come December, and we just don’t want any problems.

The Florida half-mile was last paved in 1973. Water runs off the hill overlooking Turn 1 and onto the racing surface when it rains. In the case of an especially wet summer, the ground beneath the pavement wasn’t as firm as it needed to be to withstand continued use and the already fractured pavement was pulled up during the most recent race weekend.

At that point, Bryant had two choices -- order a complete or partial repave.

Tri-County Speedway in North Carolina suffered a similar incident during a 2018 CARS Tour event and that track went on to receive a partial repave that only minimally affected the racing product.

The primary appeal of racing at Five Flags Speedway is managing the significant tire wear during a long green flag run and Bryant didn’t want to lose that element in advance of the Snowball Derby. Bryant hopes to allow the frontstretch and Turn 1 to age several years before needing to address the corners or backstretch at different intervals.

"Frankly, it was just the cost factor more than anything else," Bryant said. "But you know what, for years, drivers have been saying 'please don't pave the race track,' but we know the rest of the surface is on borrowed time.

"We thought we had a really good Southern Super Series and CARS Tour combo race at Tri-County this summer and how they approached their repave kind of planted this seed in the back of our minds. Maybe we can do our repave in sections. I don't know that this is officially our plan, but we'll see how it develops."