Charlotte Motor Speedway installing transition strip between track, grass

Charlotte Motor Speedway is installing a 6-foot-wide transition border between the pavement and grass on the 1.5-mile track’s front stretch. The goal is for a smoother and safer surface for drivers should their cars leave the track and head for the grass.

The border will include 140 tons of a sand/oil mixture with rye grass and be ready for the track’s Oct. 8-10 race week.

“This will make that transition more flexible and should result in less damage for cars if they leave the racing surface and go into the grass,” said CMS spokesman Scott Cooper.

In the past, when a car has left Charlotte’s racing surface and gone into the grass along the front stretch, damage often has been done to its “splitter,” a piece of equipment that runs along the full width of the front of the car and is close to the ground. But hitting the grass can also have more serious consequences.

Having grass at all on NASCAR infields has become an issue in the sport this season. Cars are more likely to get out of control – possibly flipping or rolling – on grass than they are on pavement.

“In reality, there’s no sense in grass,” driver Kyle Busch said at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in July. “There’s absolutely no reason to have grass at any of these facilities. I think that needs to be one of the next biggest pushes we all have.”

Busch suffered a broken foot and leg after his car slid through the grass and into a wall at Daytona in February.

Having grass at tracks isn’t just for cosmetics (race logos are usually stenciled into the brilliant green surface); it is also helpful at some facilities for practical reasons such as drainage.

Cooper said there are no plans to pave over the grass at CMS. “What we’ve done (with the transition surface) is a step in the right direction in terms of making the track more safe,” he said.