NASCAR returns to safer Delaware track

The latest in a number of improvements at Dover International Speedway include additional SAFER barriers and bigger pit stalls.

As NASCAR’s top three series roll into the First State this weekend, drivers will find some on-track changes designed to improve safety at the Dover International Speedway.

An additional 479-feet of steel and foam energy reduction barriers were added to the track. More commonly known as SAFER barriers, the 40-inch high walls are designed to cushion cars as they crash into them. Made in part of foam blocks, the SAFER barriers reduce car damage and driver injuries and have been added at tracks across the country. 

The new barriers were added at Dover along the backstretch of the track between turns two and three. Track officials also added a new stretch of concrete near the entrance of turn three, a frequent scene for crashes on race day. 

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In addition to the softer walls, drivers will get more room on pit road. Three of track’s 43 pit stalls were eliminated. The remaining 40 spots were lengthened by two feet each. 

The safety upgrades are the latest changes at the track, which has seen some contraction in recent years.

Before last May’s race, more than 17,000 seats were removed from the speedway, lowering overall seating capacity to less than 100,000.  The seat trimming process continued after the fall race weekend with the removal of the upper sections of turn three, which lowered seating capacity further to 85,000.

The reduction in seats comes after a major expansion at the facility through the 1990’s. The track added seats for 16 years in a row ending in 2001 with a full capacity of 135,000. That capacity lasted for about ten years. In 2011, the track widened its existing seats from 18 to 22 inches, reducing capacity to 113,000.

On track activity for this weekend’s events starts Thursday with practice for the Camping World Truck Series. The truck series race will be held Friday afternoon. Saturday the NASCAR Xfinity Series Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200 race will take place, followed by the main event, Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism.

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