Drivers heard: SMI may be putting Atlanta repave on hold

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Ford, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead the field to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds Of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5, 2017 in Hampton, Georgia. (Getty Images)

After drivers voiced their displeasure about a repave of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said on SiriusXM NASCAR radio Sunday that it could be on hold.

The repave was to start shortly after Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Drivers however have been vocal about keeping the rough surface notorious for chewing up tires.

“I love all the positive comments we’ve gotten,” Smith said. “We’re just going to have to look into it. I’ll tell you with all the positive comments that we’ve had, it definitely causes us to re-look at our plan.”

“I can’t really say the status has changed,” he added. “We’ve looked at the track a lot over the years. We feel like we’ve gotten three more years out of the track right now. The challenges are still there in keeping the track raceable, making it something we can have a race on today and making sure we have a quality race.”

The track has not been repaved since 1997. Top drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson are among those who have spoken out on social media this weekend against the repave.

“I’ve heard from the drivers that they like this gritty surface,” Smith said Sunday. “We will look at it after the race today and we’ll make a better determination on what we have to do moving forward.”

Smith also addressed questions about Las Vegas Motor Speedway getting a second date. The Las Vegas Journal –Review reported Friday that the SMI owned track would be getting a second Cup race in 2018. That second date could come from Atlanta, also owned by SMI.

“I  don’t think there’s any reason for worry,” Smith said.

“I know they have a meeting coming up next week,” he added. “So, really, that’s the next thing we’re waiting for.”