SPARTA, Ky.— With nearly two inches of asphalt relaid at Kentucky Speedway, the Kentucky Tire Dragon was called into action to help rubber in the track.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Kentucky Speedway officials ran the tire dragon in the middle and lower grooves of the 1.5-mile facility.
However, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams arrived on the property on Wednesday morning for practice, the complaints rolled in that speedway officials should have ran the tire dragon in the upper groove of the facility.
Hey @KySpeedway , why do all this work on running in the bottom groove? I would be running-in the wall on down...Will get 2 bottom naturally pic.twitter.com/guY9aCqvNs— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) July 5, 2017
?that helps nothing need it from the wall down! https://t.co/vcEsOgeO7p— Ty Dillon (@tydillon) July 5, 2017
Here are what drivers had to say about where the tire dragon ran:
“The thing is I thought they did a really good job at Texas. You saw multi-groove racing at Texas on a repave which is pretty unheard of. They can only do so much man. If we tire drag the whole track, everybody is naturally going to go back to the bottom because it’s a repave and it’s going to be – it’s just gonna be faster down there. It’s just how it’s going to work. I think even if they drag the top in, I don’t think it’s going to be faster up by the wall than it would be right on the white line,” said Erik Jones, who is pulling double duty this weekend. “It’s just a repave and it’s going to be like this for ten years. We’re going to be on the bottom and then we’ll start to work up to the middle. Kentucky really, even on the old surface, was just starting to get up to the wall, so it just takes time.”
Yeah, that’s been kind of an ongoing thing at race tracks is running the tire dragon in the bottom groove or putting grip in the bottom groove and it’s – to me I honestly think and from especially what I saw yesterday is the tire dragon, the rubber, the groove is going to be on the bottom especially in Turns 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 because that’s the shortest way around the track here and that’s where it’s going to make the most grip. It’s going to be the fastest. I feel like maybe we should’ve put like a small amount of rubber on the bottom just to help us get going, but a majority of the rubber concentrated in the middle groove and then up a little bit higher,” said NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Rhodes. “Wherever you’re going to put the rubber is where the cars are going to be the fastest at. But with the tires that Goodyear is bringing here, if they drug it in the middle groove, then our left-side tires would be adding to that rubber cause we’re – as drivers, the lower you get the happier you are, so we’re going to add that rubber ourselves to the bottom. I think if they allowed us to work it in that might have maybe widened the groove out a little bit more – if they focused maybe in the middle. Either way, they’ve done a good job with getting rid of the bumps we had last year. Putting that two inches of asphalt all the way around and the tighter compact asphalt that’s here I think is gonna be a little bit better for getting rubber down as well.”
The most adamant about running the tire dragon was Brendan Gaughan.
“It’s stupid. They need to drag the lanes we don’t race. The lane we don’t practice in. Now, Kentucky has a lot of rain so that will wash lots of it away anyways. You could’ve done the upper two lanes and worked your way down. Lots of places could do that,” said Gaughan. “For some reason, someone doesn’t think thats a good idea. I don’t know why. I’d love to hear an answer for it. Nobody has ever given me one.”
Track officials stated that they did it because it worked during the Cup race last season. However, Gaughan was still not pleased with that answer noting that Cup races were shorter.
“There are 25 more teams that run harder than in this (Xfinity) series,’’ Gaughan said. “You have more people battling, more race cars, more laps to do it. It works great,” said Gaughan. “I think we’ve all seen in the media and the drivers, the tire dragon works great. … Then why not put it in the places that you want the track to grow to, not where you know that everybody wants to go?’’
Racing action from Kentucky Speedway kicks off with tonight’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1.