Notes: Gateway track surface undergoing repaving

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INDYCAR drivers will have a fresh new track surface to compete on during the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline race weekend next month at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Repaving of the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois, is underway and part of the third phase of a capital improvement plan begun in 2012 by track owner and CEO Curtis Francois. In addition to replacing the 20-year-old oval’s surface, parking around Gateway will be expanded.

“This project demonstrates our commitment to the future of motorsports in the St. Louis region," Francois said. “We want to ensure that our fans, the teams and the sanctioning bodies have the best experience possible when they visit Gateway Motorsports Park. This is another major investment in not only our venue, but also in the ability of the St. Louis region to host additional major league sporting events.”

The resurfacing project began immediately after Gateway hosted a NASCAR trucks event on June 17. Once the repaving is complete, the surface will undergo a race conditioning process so that it will be race-ready for Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights test sessions tentatively scheduled in early August.

Gateway is also upgrading catch fences, installing additional SAFER Barrier and paving a substantial part of the inside track.

“We’ve been in conversations with the top asphalt consultants who have worked closely with INDYCAR and NASCAR and their host venues," said Chris Blair, Gateway’s executive vice president and general manager. “The asphalt blends, the polymers used and the application process were crafted specifically for Gateway and the types of racing that will take place on the track. All of the stakeholders in the sport, from tire companies to team owners, were included in the decision-making process. Both sanctioning bodies (NASCAR and INDYCAR) fully supported the resurfacing project.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the facility just outside St. Louis for the first time since 2003, with the race weekend scheduled Aug. 25-26. The top two levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires – Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires – will also race.

The race weekend culminates a weeklong St. Louis Speed Festival that includes a five-kilometer run/walk, a cycling event, a corporate karting challenge, INDYCAR night at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game and an INDYCAR Fan Fest.

The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 9 p.m. ET Aug. 26. For tickets and race week information, visit gatewaymsp.com or call (618) 215-8888. Tickets start at $35 with children 15 and under admitted free with a paying adult.

Bourdais getting back in the swim of it

A week after sustaining multiple hip fractures and a fractured right hip in a frightening crash during Indianapolis 500 qualifications on May 20, Sebastien Bourdais swore he would be back behind the wheel of an Indy car before the end of the season.

The Dale Coyne Racing driver literally took a big step this week. Bourdais, the 38-year-old four-time Indy car champion, posted a video on social media Thursday of him swimming in his hometown of St. Petersburg and then getting out of the pool and putting weight on his right leg. Doctors had predicted it would take about eight weeks before Bourdais could put weight on the leg; he was able to do so in less than seven weeks.

Watch the video here:

Took X-rays yesterday. All looks good! pic.twitter.com/gEJThU629X

Bourdais originally insisted he could return in time for the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 17, but he’s since hinted he believes he could be ready for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen on Sept. 3.

From the fans