Austin Dillon was made available to the media early in the day. Dillon talks about Kentucky and the 2016 season.
When asked about the first half of 2016 and his outlook on Kentucky, Dillon stated, “For us it’s an opportunity I think coming to a track that is freshly paved. The racing has been pretty solid this year. We look at this as an opportunity for us coming to a place that not anybody has a real true advantage. There are some guys that tested here, but as far as the banking and the layout of the track, I’ve been pretty fast here. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race and the opportunities it brings. It was nice getting in the Xfinity car and kind of learning a little bit before we get in the Cup car. I think it will be interesting for sure come Saturday night.”
Dillon was also asked about the difference between 2015 Kentucky and 2016 Kentucky. "“Yeah, it is still very unique. The way the banking enters Turn 3 it’s a flat corner and in (Turns) 1 and 2 is very high banked. You run wide open getting through 1 and 2. In 3 and 4 you kind of have to back up your corner and figure out how to carry momentum and speed because of the banking. I think it’s still Kentucky. There are just not as many bumps and a lot of grip right now. I do think that the way it’s paved, eventually the higher line in 3 and 4 will come into play. “
Dillon also talked about how he believes the low downforce package would come into affect this weekend. “I think you will see similar racing that you saw at Michigan. I think getting underneath a car is going to be the hardest part. I think you will be able to run closer to guys, but exit of the corner will be tough. Carrying speed off of Turn 4 is going to be tough like Brad (Keselowski) was saying. Entering (Turns) 3 and 4 will be a challenge and then exiting beside somebody. But, with all the grip I think it will be very similar to any package that is out there because you have a lot of grip right now. Hopefully, it does present some passing lanes as we move throughout the weekend and create a strong race for us.”
Austin Dillon believes that racing in Friday’s Alsco 300 will be a benefit to him in Sunday’s Quaker State 400. "Definitely hope it’s the advantage I think it is. Not only that it’s just good for me to be prepared when I get in that Cup car to be ready to go.”
Since the last time the NASCAR circuit was at Kentucky Speedway, changes have been made. These changes were necessary for the facility that was incepted in 2000.
Despite the traffic concerns that ensued on their inaugural race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kentucky had more issues within the racing surface. Drainage issues and a rough track surface were the culprit for a new Kentucky Speedway.
When Kentucky announced they were going to repave the track, they also announced that they will reconfigure the track as well during the repave.
What did the repave and reconfiguration project include?
29,700 feet of draining pipe will be included in the subsurface draining system. An addition of 3200 feet of SAFER Barrier was added, in addition to the 2500 feet installed in 2015. SAFER Barriers cover 11,300 feet of the wall, resulting in nearly all the walls being covered by SAFER. The apron of turns one and two and the pit exit drive line were widened from 14 feet to 30 feet. The track was narrowed in turns one and two from 74 feet to 56 feet. The banking was increased from 14 to 17 degrees. Over 17,000 tons of asphalt was poured over the entire 1.5-mile facility.
Work began on Kentucky Speedway with the removal of the SAFER Barriers in January. Once SAFER was removed, work on the drainage system occurred. At the end of April, the repave began and was completed in May.
Surveying, track design, and layout was done by Line and Grade. Grading, excavating, under drain, and soil stabilizing was done by Baker’s Construction Services. Ohio Valley Asphalt provided the mix for paving. SAFER Barriers were provided by Southern Bleacher and Seal Pro.
A standard racing asphalt mix was used to pave the track with a minor tweak for surface wear. A curing process was used to help age the track to be “seasoned” by this weekend.
Changes to the pit lane were made because the exit was narrow making traffic merges nearly impossible. This allowed for a shorter racing groove and steeper banking in the turns. The first and second turns are considered more difficult than three and four.
"I am excited about the finished product as we wanted to present a unique challenge to the drivers," project manager Steve Swift said, vice president of operations and development for parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. "This design, with Turns 1 and 2 completely different than 3 and 4 accomplishes that goal. The big winner will be the race fan."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rounds out a triple-header weekend at Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400. 40 drivers will be competing for 40 spots on the Saturday night showdown. This is the 18th race of the 2016 season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The top drivers to watch in the Quaker State 400 are Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano.
There have been 5 races held at Kentucky Speedway. Three different drivers have won a pole at Kentucky. Brad Keselowski, who won the pole in 2014, is the youngest pole winner and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the pole in 2013, is the oldest. There have been only three different race winners at Kentucky; Kyle Busch, who won in 2011, is the youngest winner, and Matt Kenseth, who won in 2013, is the oldest winner. Only two races have been won from the pole. The last driver to win from the pole was Brad Keselowski in 2014. Keselowski holds the race record with a speed of 145.607 mph set in 2012, and the qualifying record with a speed of 188.791 mph set in 2014.
Matt Kenseth discusses his expectations for the Quaker State 400. “I haven’t been on the track yet since the repave, but Kentucky used to be the roughest track on the circuit and it is a very unique track that is tough to get around. Typically with repaves, the track will obviously be really smooth and the groove usually at the bottom of the pavement, and the track will also usually be very forgiving. You’ll have a lot of grip until you don’t and then it can be really hard to catch cars usually on new pavement, so you’ll want to keep up as much momentum and your track position as much as you can after they repave a track. I’ve always thought that the racing has been really good at Kentucky over the years, so I’m looking forward to going there and seeing what it’s like now.”
Kyle Busch, last years winner, talks about the challenge of the turns at Kentucky. “It’s going to be interesting. I think the biggest thing that I saw in the test is that the groove goes from being so wide coming out of turn four and down the front straightaway, it kind of narrows up getting into turn one and the racetrack width narrows up, not to mention the groove is probably only one car wide. Then, on the other end getting into turn three, the track kind of widens out down there and you have plenty of room, but again it narrows down and there’s only one groove. We tried our best to get it rubbered in during the test. It seemed in turns one and two, the rubber laid down well, but it was more of a challenge in turns three and four. We’ll see how it is this weekend.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have one practice session on Thursday at 2:30 pm on NBCSN, and will have two more practices on Friday. The first practice on Friday that begins at 11 am will be tape-delayed on NBCSN noon. Qualifying for the Quaker State 400 will begin at 6:45 Eastern on NBCSports.com. The race will begin at 7:30 pm eastern on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network.
In what Clint Bowyer was hoping to be a good season, it has turned into a dismal season that he would soon like to forget.. The driver of the no. 15 Chevy for HScott Motorsports has struggled in 2016 before his move over to Stewart-Haas Racing to replace Tony Stewart in 2017.
Bowyer’s day at Sonoma ended before it even started. On lap seven, Bowyer’s car went up into smoke after an electrical fire, adding to the setbacks in 2016. Smoke entered into the cockpit, leaving Bowyer unable to breath.
After he exited the car, he slammed his helmet into the car out of frustration.
“Yeah, it’s terribly frustrating. This is my favorite race track and I’ve run really good at it. I don’t know. It kind of sometimes inexcusable when stuff breaks that quick, but who knows what happened. I’m sure a wire was rubbing on something or something and just shorted out and burnt up. It’s a shame.”
Bowyer has struggled in his one-year deal with Scott. He only has two top-10’s and is 23rd in points. Can he recover and end his season on a high note?
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wraps up a weekend at Sonoma Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park for the Toyota Save Mart 350 and the Drivin’ For Lineman 200. Here are my five weekend takeaways:
o Conspiracy Theories: Can we please stop with the conspiracy theories of Denny Hamlin allowing Tony Stewart to pass him on the final corner? If Hamlin were to truly let Stewart win, he would not have passed him on the last lap. We all want drama and excitement, but the “black-helicopters” have to stop.
o Extra-Curricular Activity: I am fine with driver’s participating in extra-curricular activities like fighting, but I am glad that it does not happen often. However, the issue comes when this activity is taken on a “hot” track. I understand that the red flag was displayed Saturday, but what if it wern't displayed? I understand that drivers are heated in the moment, but judgment should not be deferred.
o Road Course Racing: I am thoroughly enjoying the resurgence of racing on a road course. Just a few years ago, we dreaded going to a road course, but now they are one of the most looked forward to events on the schedule. Should a road course race be added to the Chase? I wouldn’t mind seeing one, but only time will tell.
o Townley/Gallagher: Your “fight” was an embarrassment on the sport. Instead of other media outlets talking about a great race, they were talking more about your tango. Is any publicity good publicity? In my opinion, no, especially with the “fighting” moves demonstrated.
o Gateway Motorsports Park: I am glad to see that Gateway was brought on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. Despite the past two years being delayed by weather, the racing action was one of the best. I hope to see more events take place at Gateway in the future of NASCAR.
What are your takeaways from this past weekend at Sonoma and Gateway?