Recently, several areas of Chicagoland Speedway?s 1.5-mile tri-oval racing surface underwent a process known as ?diamond-grinding.? The process grinds and eliminates bumps in the asphalt, thus smoothing the racing surface.

?Chicagoland Speedway, as all racing facilities do, experienced minor settling of the racing surface in several locations,? said Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. ?Rather than wait until after the 2003 season to address the settling, we felt it was important to ensure the racing surface was as smooth as possible for our IRL? and ARCA drivers competing this weekend.?

The state-of-the-art Chicagoland Speedway is owned and operated by Raceway Associates, LLC, which is comprised of International Speedway Corp. (ISC), Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. (IMS) and the founding owners of Route 66 Raceway. ?Having an ownership group that consists of ISC and IMS is a tremendous advantage because it allows us to utilize resources from some of the finest and longest-running facilities and individuals in racing,? said Alexander.

After consulting track experts at ISC and IMS, as well as independent consultants, Speedway officials came to the conclusion that the best solution was to diamond-grind several areas of the racing surface, similar to what Indianapolis Motor Speedway performed in 2002. "Even though the best design efforts and materials were used in the paving of Chicagoland Speedway there will always be minor, and expected, settling beneath the racing surface. The minor settling under the track is more commonly seen in higher banked tracks like Chicagoland Speedway,? said Kevin Forbes, director of engineering and construction for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "The settling that occurred here would be unperceivable to an automobile on a highway, but for a race car with a high-tuned suspension it was something we wanted to address right away to ensure the best racing surface possible.?

According to Forbes, a smoother surface will improve grip for race cars because the smoother surface eliminates cars bottoming out and disrupting the down force generated by ground effects. ?Also, with the grinding of the asphalt, small to medium grooves or channels are added to the texture of the track, increasing the coefficient of friction between the tires and the track surface and resulting in better grip,? Forbes concluded.

On August 27, just a few days after the diamond-grinding took place at Chicagoland Speedway, approximately 10 IRL IndyCar? Series drivers had the opportunity to test the racing surface during a test session in preparation for the Sunday, September 7 Delphi Indy 300. Speedway officials received positive feedback from the drivers.

Scott Sharp ? No. 8 Delphi: ?I?m real pleased with (Chicagoland Speedway). Coming here the first couple years it was so smooth. But, knowing the kind of winters Chicago has, I knew that might change. I applaud (Chicagoland Speedway) in trying to keep the track as smooth as possible for us. There are slight ripples, but certainly one of the smoother tracks we run on.?

Helio Castroneves ? No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske: ?(Chicagoland Speedway) is very smooth. Our race cars are so sensitive for any kind of bump, weather condition or even the heat, so it is very nice to know that (Chicagoland Speedway) is taking care of the racing surface. Because we are going around 220 mph, any kind of a sudden move is very risky - that?s why you have to be on the smoothest surface you can be.?

Click here for information about the September 5-7 ARCA/IRL weekend.

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