David Ragan cites two key variables for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway - new tires and changing temperatures. Teams should get a handle on the first item on Thursday, when the recently repaved track opens for a day of testing before practice and qualifying begins on Friday.
But a forecasted cool-down for Saturday and Sunday could throw some extra challenges into the race weekend. The No. 34 Taco Bell team will have to be prepared for anything as they prepare for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 in Kansas City, Kan., for the series' second visit to the venue this season.
Ragan has one top-10, two top-15 and six top-20 finishes in his nine Cup career starts at the 1.5-mile oval.
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan heading to Kansas:
"That's the biggest thing when we go to these racetracks like Kansas - the pavement is new and it's continuously changing the first couple years. I'm sure they had a very hot summer there, and we're going to go back and try to use our notes from the spring race and see what we have. A lot of times the temperatures can make a pretty big difference.
"Goodyear has given us an extra day, along with NASCAR, to do some extra testing on Thursday. So we'll get a good idea of what our Ford Fusion has and what it needs to have. It's a very fast racetrack since they've added the banking, and it should make for an exciting Chase race. That first day should give us an idea of what we have.
"A lot of it depends on if Goodyear brings a little different tire, if it's constructed a little differently. That makes it a little more difficult for the crew chief and engineer to find that sweet spot, and even for drivers to know exactly how hard you can push it and what the fall-off is. That may change some strategy. So, the Thursday test in Kansas is very important. The weather can be a big variable, too. In Kansas in the fall, you can get a really nice day or it can be just freezing cold, so we'll see what we get."