Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a straightforward message to anyone who thinks that the answer to producing a better quality of racing is modifying the racing surfaces of some of the current tracks on the NASCAR calendar.
"We really don't need everybody hammering away at the surface of the race track trying to fix it," Earnhardt said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, "because nobody really knows what the result is going to be."
Bristol is one such track that called in the bulldozers last year after some fans were left unsatisfied with the spring race, which featured far fewer cautions and less side-by-side racing than has become synonymous with the half-mile oval.
But did the changes Bristol undertook between its March and August events dramatically change the style of racing?
NASCAR's most popular driver isn't so sure, as the intended consequence of forcing drivers to the lower groove never really materialized as drivers continued to run the higher groove.
"Really, nobody knew what was going to happen," Earnhardt said. "They were trying to eliminate the top groove and ended-up making it even stronger. And so it didn't really have the intended result, but it was a good result nonetheless. Everybody seemed to enjoy the race. I did."
And the idea that other tracks either need to resurface or reconfigure doesn't make sense according to Earnhardt, who cited Atlanta, Las Vegas and Texas as tracks with aged asphalt where multi-groove racing is a common occurrence. The way he sees it, the more worn a surface gets the more it makes the drivers work, which in turn creates a better product.
"We just repaved a lot of tracks and you're going to have to be patient," Earnhardt said. "There's no way to speed that process up as far as aging that asphalt. ... Some of these surfaces, once they do age, will tend to be more durable and won't need repaving so quickly and we'll be able to enjoy that style of racing on those tracks a lot longer than we did in the previous paving cycle."
Of course, what constitutes a good racing surface is open for interpretation. What one driver likes another may not, while fans will often have a completely different idea of what kind of form of racing they want to see out on the track.
"Everybody has an opinion on what track is a good race track," Earnhardt said." Every driver is going to have a little bit different opinion on what type of race track they enjoy racing on. The fans like different tracks for different reasons. Everybody's got a difference of opinion."
All of which are reasons why Earnhardt stressed the need to stop the talk of resurfacing/reconfiguration to better accommodate the Gen-6 car.
"I think everybody needs to put away the pickaxes and hammers," he said, "because we really don't know what makes a good race track."