Mixed emotions among Albany-Saratoga drivers about new surface

"We're able to make this a multi-use track," said Richards.

The switch has led to some problems for the racers, such as changing track conditions.

"With dirt, you know what the track will be like," said Williams. "The asphalt is much more temperature sensitive."

"It changes the opposite of dirt," said Ronca. "On dirt, as the evening progresses you keep losing bite [between the tires and the surface]. On this [asphalt], as it gets cooler you gain more bite."

Those shifting track conditions force drivers and their pit crews to constantly make adjustments to their vehicles.

"When you make a change on the car, you can feel it immediately when you get on the blacktop," said Depew. "You can tell if the car is too loose or too tight."

If the racecars aren't dialed in properly, wrecks can happen. And on a blacktop surface, drivers say those wrecks can do a lot more damage than if they happen on a dirt track.

"When you do wreck you can have quite a bit of driveline damage," said Depew.

It's also been tough for racers to pass on the new surface.

"If you get off the bottom [line], it's very hard to go around somebody because they're so much faster when they're down there," said Depew.

"Where you start is super important," added Williams. "We've already won this year [the June 18 modified feature], and it's a super good feeling just to know that I can be competitive."

But as more drivers get used to Albany-Saratoga's paved oval, the hope is that they will keep coming back, said Richards.

"You've got a good, solid core of the ones who have been here for a long time and some new ones," said Richards. "The ones who wanted nothing to do with the pavement are now checking in and slowly coming back."

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