Kentucky and AAA Announce New Partnership
On Thursday morning, Kentucky Speedway and AAA announced a multi-year agreement. The garage area at Kentucky Speedway will be called the AAA Garage. This will be the first time AAA has made this type of sponsorship announcement.
Mark Simendinger, General Manager of Kentucky Speedway, is pumped to have the sponsorship of AAA. “This is really an important day for Kentucky Speedway because we have been building Kentucky Speedway. We are still far and the youngest track on the NASCAR circuit, and you cannot build without a foundation, and you have to have building block partners. I can’t think of a better one to have than AAA. Certainly it’s been a company that has been on our radar for a long time. We’ve wanted to have relationship with them because they are a premier brand, touch a lot of consumers, best in class, they’re exactly who we want to be identified with, and they know the motorsports business and the value it can bring. We are just thrilled to be apart of this. I can guarantee we are only scratching the surface this year, the best i can tell you is that this is a multi-year agreement. We are hoping this is one of those we can build on for decades and not just years and Im really looking forward to all the things we can do together.”
Tom Wederman, AAA Chief Operating Officer of AAA Club Alliance stated, "We are excited to be here for the official opening of the AAA Garage. We are really excited and pleased to be entering into a long-term relationship with the Kentucky Speedway. We have been talking about this for a long time. We believe this is logical that we both care so much about cars. This was only a matter of time. By the presence of the AAA Garage here at Kentucky Speedway, we hope it reminds race fans that we are dedicated to the business of complete automotive solutions. On behalf of AAA and are millions of members across the region and country, we look forward to a great weekend of racing.”
Austin Dillon, driver of the no. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevy, was in attendance. "It is awesome to see AAA Garage in here. We are excited for this partnership that AAA has created."
Brandon Jones, driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, is driving the AAA Chevy this weekend. “ I really enjoy coming to Kentucky, always have. I love the area and I love the racetrack.It will look even better with that AAA scheme. To see the AAA Garage and them getting in the sport, i can’t thank them enough and look forward to them to continue this partnership."
A New Kentucky Awaits
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."
NSCS Quaker State 400 Preview
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.
NXS Alsco 300 Preview
The NASCAR Xfinity Series bluegrasses into the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway for the 16th annual Alsco 300, the 16th race of the 2016 season. 40 cars are slated to compete for 40 spots in Friday evening’s events. This is the first of two trip for the NASCAR Xfinity Series to Kentucky Speedway. Friday night’s race will be 200 laps and 300 miles.
The top drivers at Kentucky Speedway for the NASCAR Xfinity Series are Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick, all are regulars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The top Xfinity regular is Ty Dillon.
There have been 14 pole winners at Kentucky. Joey Logano, who won the pole in 2008, is the youngest, and Jay Sauter, who won the pole in 2001, is the oldest pole winner. Kentucky Speedway has seen 12 different winners in 19 races. Joey Logano, who won in 2008, is the youngest winner, and Brendan Gaughan, who won in 2014, is the oldest winner. Six races have been one from the pole. The last race won from the pole was in 2012 by Austin Dillon. Dillon also holds the race record set in 2012 with a speed of 151.643 mph. Carl Edwards see the qualifying record in 2005 with a speed of 181.287 mph.
Elliott Sadler, who has one win in 2016, explains what the new surface means. “The surface is new to everyone. We are all going in with a blank notebook. We know it’s going to be fast and smooth. The unknown is what makes it fun and exciting for this weekend. We want to unload fast and adapt as quickly as we can to what we feel like the car will need during the race. Kevin (Meendering) and I are really looking forward to it.”
Bubba Wallace Jr., who was fined by NASCAR this week, explains what it means to race at Kentucky. “Kentucky is going to be fast. That new pavement will mean that the inside line will be key all race long. Hopefully we will have a strong Ford EcoBoost Ford that will get up front and we can contend for the win come the end of the night.”
Austin Dillon ponders on what it means to race at Kentucky. "I love Kentucky Speedway. I had my first two NASCAR XFINITY Series wins there. I didn't run the XFINITY Series car there last year, but I'm ready to get back to Kentucky this weekend with the No. 2 Rheem team. We'll have a lot of track time on Thursday to get used to the new surface. Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and the guys have been working really hard and I'm sure we'll unload a fast Chevrolet.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have three practice session on Thursday on NBCSN. Qualifying will be Friday afternoon at 4:45 pm on NBCSN. The Alsco 300 will be live on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network on Friday evening beginning at 8:30 pm.
NCWTS Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 Preview
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hustles into the newly repaved and reconfigured 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway for the sixth annual Buckle up in Your Truck 225. 32 drivers are entered for 32 spots in the Thursday Night Special, a 225 mile and 150 lap shootout.
This is the tenth race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016. There have been 18 races held at the Kentucky Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. 15 different drivers have won a pole at Kentucky Speedway. Ryan Blaney, who set on the pole in 2013, was the youngest pole winner, and Ron Hornaday Jr., who won the pole in 2009, is the oldest pole winner. 14 drivers have mastered Kentucky Speedway through a win. Ty Dillon is the youngest winner and Ron Hornaday Jr. is the oldest. Three races have been won from the pole with the last one by Matt Crafton in 2015. Mike Bliss set the race record in 2002 with a speed of 143.515 mph. Austin Dillon holds the qualifying record set in 2011 with a speed of 179.868 mph.
John Wes Townley, who was scheduled to race Thursday night, has been replaced with Parker Kligerman due to a possible concussion. Townley is currently under treatment.
Drivers to watch include Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Roddick, and Johnny Sauter
Drivers are excited about the chance to race at Kentucky Speedway.
Matt Crafton talks about racing at Kentucky. “Kentucky Speedway and I have had a love-hate relationship in the past, to be quite honest. It’s been really good to us at times, and really bad for us too. Junior (Joiner, crew chief) and all the guys worked really hard, brought back a completely different setup last year and we were finally able to get the monkey off our backs and get a win. With the track repave this year it will be an entirely new animal. Turns 1 and 2 will have more of a progressive banking, which means more speed down the backstretch and be completely different than Turns 3 and 4 that didn’t undergo any changes. It sounds like the biggest change will be the racing groove – it’s pretty wide coming out of Turn 4 onto the straightaway and then narrows up getting into Turn 1 because they increased the width of pit road exit. We get three practice sessions on Wednesday to test out the new surface and get accustom to the track, so it will be interesting to see how the truck handles and changes as the trucks lay down rubber.”
Kyle Busch explains how he believes Kentucky will race after the repave. “It will be just like any other race on a repave -- there are going to be a lot of unknowns and a lot of different variables. With the reconfiguration of the track – the paving, banking, angle changing in (turns) one and two versus three and four – you basically have a whole new race track. I think it’s going to be a benefit running all three races this weekend so I can learn to understand the nuisances of the new configuration and learn how to pass on a single-groove race track.”
Despite being one of the top drivers at Kentucky, Johnny Sauter talks about racing at Kentucky. "Kentucky is definitely not one of my best tracks. With that said, there's no reason we can't turn that around. We've had a great season so far and I feel like the No. 21 team has really grown over the last few races. I'm looking forward to seeing how the track races with the new surface. I think it will add a lot of speed and certainly change the way you would normally prepare for Kentucky."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will have three practice sessions on Wednesday. Qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will begin 5 pm eastern on Fox Sports 2, and the race will begin at 8:30 pm on Fox Sports 1. Motor Racing Network has the call starting at 8 pm eastern,Thursday night.