Whisler Weekly Recap: Kentucky
Once again, inspection issues plagued the qualifying sessions at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
When qualifying began in the NASCAR Xfintiy Series, there were roughly 10 teams sitting in the inspection line at the LIS station. Luckily, all teams were able to make a lap in the session due to the cleanup from three spins on the racing surface.
However, Kyle Larson was not lucky during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. The team went through the LIS at least four times before ultimately giving up as the clock ran out on qualifying.
At Kentucky, NASCAR began issuing tougher penalties to teams who decide they want to play games in inspection. One of the penalties was moving practice holds to the final practice session of the weekend. The sanctioning body is also looking at taking away a set of tires from teams. NASCAR is also taking away the “hard cards” of crew chiefs for a certain amount of time, forcing them to get paper credentials from each track.
NASCAR is keeping teams in check by forcing their hand when it comes to the inspection process. Teams called on NASCAR earlier in the season to keep a stiff hand.
In an effort to make the racing better after a repave at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) ran the tire dragon across the middle to lower grooves of the track.
However, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams arrived to the track on Wednesday for practice, they were upset with where the speedway ran the tire dragon. The speedway confirmed they ran the tire dragon where they did last year based on the racing.
SMI officials were adamant that they knew what they were doing, until Friday. After more outcry from drivers, SMI ran the tire dragon in an eight foot section from the middle groove up before and after the postponed NASCAR Xfinity Series event.
After the Xfinity and Cup race, there was no noticeable difference in the racing based on where the track ran the tire dragon. The only difference was found from within the cockpit when drivers would get out of the bottom groove that the track would catch the car and not send the driver for a spin,
With stage racing in place, competition cautions should have been deemed unnecessary especially with short stage lengths in the Truck and Xfinity series.
Despite rains throughout the day before the Truck race, NASCAR did not issue a competition caution. Why? The first and second stage had lengths of 35 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there was a competition caution despite the opening stage lengths being only 45 laps.
NASCAR should look at potentially removing competition cautions in the Truck and Xfinity Series due to the shorter stage length. The stage lengths in these series is usually shorter than the length of a fuel run. Teams cannot fuel the car before the competition caution.
Tire Dragon To Be Run Before Quaker State 400
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.
Kentucky Begins Preparations For 2017 NASCAR Events
In October 2016, Kentucky Speedway announced that they would be adding an additional layer of asphalt to their racing surface. This move was made after the previous repave, which happened before their July events, because the asphalt did not meet construction specifications.
"When our team examined the race track, portions of the paving performed earlier this year did not meet the construction specifications," said General Manager of Kentucky Speedway Mark Simendinger. "These deficiencies had no impact on this year's racing and would affect only the long term viability of the surface if left uncorrected. In order to remedy these issues, an additional surface course of asphalt will be applied. The track will cure over the winter and be fully in use in the spring."
With repaves, the surface takes a couple years to provide a higher quality of racing. However, Kentucky Speedway took the measures to help facilitate the aging of the surface as well as creating a groove.
After a brief stint at Texas Motor Speedway during its NASCAR weekends, the tire dragon made its voyage back to the grounds of Kentucky Speedway to begin preparing its surface.
The Kentucky Tire Dragon is already in full affect just over two months before the July 7-9 events at Kentucky Speedway.
The speedway released a video via Twitter to help showcase the work that is underway.
Laid some rubber today in preparation for our triple-header weekend! 71 days ??#ThisIsSPARTA pic.twitter.com/oeOQ0WEqgo— Kentucky Speedway (@KySpeedway) April 26, 2017
In just 71 days, Kentucky Speedway will host the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to kick off the second half of the season. Fans can purchase tickets by going to kentuckyspeedway.com/tickets or by calling (859)-578-2300.
Tire Monster and Tire Dragon Set to Run at Texas Overnight
Five practice sessions, two qualifying sessions, and one 300-mile event was not enough for officials at Texas Motor Speedway when it comes to a second racing groove on the newly repaved and reconfigured track.
Officials at Texas will run the Texas Tire Monster and the Kentucky Tire Dragon, which came overnight from Sparta, Kentucky to Fort Worth Texas, to help facilitate the movement of a second groove.
The Texas Tire Monster lays down rubber using heigh weight with highly cambered tires to put rubber on the track, but relies on the sun and heat for it to work. However, the Kentucky Tire Dragon creates heat through friction to grind the rubber into the track.
From now til race time, more rubber. pic.twitter.com/uW2hV0gg5F— Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) April 8, 2017
Officials will run both machines from 10 p.m. CST to 1:00 a.m. CST and then resume at 6:00 a.m. CST until the start of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Officials will also use the Team Texas Driving School, which is slated to run laps around the track from 6:30 p.m. CST to 10:00 p.m. CST, to help facilitate rubber lay down in the higher grooves.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 from Texas Motor Speedway will be live on FOX and Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. EST. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will consist of 334 laps broken down into two stages of 85 laps and the final stage consisting of 164 laps.
OPINION: Atlanta Must Be Repaved
Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) announced today that the repave that was scheduled to take place after this year’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 would be put on hold and reevaluated after the race in 2018.
This move was made after pressure from drivers came when the series was at AMS just a few weeks ago.
“We appreciate all of the input we have received from key individuals in the NASCAR industry, as well as our customers,” said Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway president. “The overwhelming majority have urged us to hold off on paving so that we can enjoy at least one more weekend of high-speed slipping and sliding in 2018 before the new surface is installed.
Before the reevaluation occurs, AMS will provide a meticulous maintenance program to preserve the surface from further deterioration.
This move is a mistake! AMS must be repaved!
What will happen when it rains? Everyone involved would have to sit for hours on ends waiting for the track to dry. Why? Weepers!
Remember back in 2015 when it rained a few hours before the start of the race? I sure do! The rain stopped nearly three to four hours before the initial time the green flag was supposed to wave. The track was dry, but weepers caused the start of the race to be delayed. The conditions may not have been ideal for track drying, but the race was delayed.
Let’s look at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS). The IndyCar and NASCAR race weekends were encompassed with rain. IndyCar had to complete the Firestone 600 in August due to the fact that the track could not dry because of weepers, nearly two months after the race was scheduled for completion. The NASCAR Fall race at TMS started late into the evening due to rain that arose the problem of weepers.
TMS scheduled a repave and reconfiguration to help solve the weeper problem.
The racing surfaces of AMS and TMS are at the same length of time as far as the age of the pavement.
It is tiring to many to hear driver’s complain that it would take a few years for the track to get back to being multiple-grooved. With the technology we have today, track operators have the opportunity to help “age” the asphalt making it multiple-grooved. TMS used that technology to help age their new asphalt. Let’s see how that works before we decide to scratch a repave in the near future because of complaints from the drivers.
Who is to blame IF it rains in 2018 and fans have to wait for hours because the track is dry, but weepers are the main culprit that cars aren’t racing? It is on the drivers who pushed for the postponement of the repave at Atlanta.