SPARTA, Ky-- Before and after the Alsco 300, Kentucky Speedway, and NASCAR deemed it necessary to run the tire dragon in the middle groove, after complaints from the drivers.
Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney are two of the handful of drivers that will run in tonight’s Quaker State 400 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“When I lost the lead on that last restart - when I slid up in three I didn’t wreck and I think I would have wrecked if the Tire Dragon wasn’t brought out. I was up in that third lane. I think that kind of saved me a little bit. I thought that was good. I saw that move made a couple times in the Truck race and people spun out. I didn’t see that today. I saw a lot of cars get loose and slide up to that lane and it kind of caught halfway and they were able to keep going,” said Blaney, who finished second in the Alsco 300. “Hopefully that will help out. I ran kind of high in one and two coming back through the field and it seemed to have some grip like half a lane up. It didn’t hurt at all getting that Tire Dragon out this morning. Hopefully tonight the Cup cars will get really slick on the bottom and we will be forced to move around. That is usually what happens and I am hopeful for that.”
“Yeah, until they oil down the backstretch and that lane getting into turn three, I thought the track was really racey. Hopefully they can burn that in a little bit more down the backstretch and that quick dry that they put down in order to take up some of that oil, they can burn that off and get it back to black instead of white. After that, it got to being about one groove again and I didn’t see anybody widening it out,” said Kyle Busch, Also 300 race winner. “You were afraid to get into the white stuff because the car will just take off up the race track on you. The other thing I saw was the race track was really good in one and two, it got really wide and definitely nothing out there to race in, but at least it’s safe if you do slip and get out there and you can still catch your car. There’s room for lapped cars to go out there and not feel that they’re going to crash. They were pretty mindful of the leaders today and we’ll see how all that goes tonight.
Running the tire dragon in the middle groove of the racetrack is reversal from Thursday afternoon!
"I think we know what we're doing," Steve Swift told NBC Sports in a Thursday interview.
The vice president of operations and development for Speedway Motorsports Inc. said they ran the tire dragon here at Kentucky Speedway after an overwhelming positive response from driver’s after the 2016 event.
"I think what a lot of drivers are forgetting is this track was resurfaced," Swift said. "It's a brand new racetrack. So on a new track, you have to put rubber down in what is the groove, not what you want the groove to be."
Track officials plan to run an eight-foot-side section in the middle of the turns, working upwards.