Fresh Asphalt Makes Kansas Chase Wild Card
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – So what will come of all those notes Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team accumulated over the last 12 years at Kansas?
Into the recycling bin they go.
After a two-hour Kansas test session that was delayed by rain, Gordon – a two-time Kansas winner – said he won’t rely on past experiences at the 1.5-mile oval. The four-time series champion said the track’s recently completed repave project that placed fresh asphalt and variable banking in the turns added a certain mystique to Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, the sixth race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“I look at it as a new race track,” Gordon said. “We don’t think of it from any notes that we had from this track in the past. We pretty much just start from scratch. It’s like going to a brand new race track somewhere else. It looks completely different than it ever did before.”
There is one guarantee come Sunday: Speed. Of the 47 cars that tested Wednesday afternoon at Kansas, 30 of them turned a faster lap than the current track qualifying record of 180.856 mph set by Matt Kenseth in 2005. Greg Biffle turned the fastest lap of the test session at 184.900 (29.205 seconds).
Among the 47 cars that tested, four were the redesigned 2013 models. The teams testing the 2013 cars were Michael Waltrip Racing, Penske Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Wood Brothers Racing.
“This track went to being pretty abrasive and wearing the tires out to now it’s smooth and super fast,” Gordon said. “We’re having fun out there, going really fast and having a lot of grip and testing and trying a lot of new things. That part of it is very interesting and fun.”
Kansas Speedway is the third of three 2012 repaves, joining Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway. Drivers and NASCAR officials alike said they expect the racing grooves to multiply as more rubber accumulates, a phenomenon that made Pocono and Michigan one of the more competitive events of the season.
“Eventually the groove will move up naturally, and I think the second or third groove very well could be one of the fastest ways around,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.
“I think it will be a good race and I think as the weekend goes the groove will start widening out and moving up,” said Joey Logano. “You can see it now it’s moving up little bit by little.”