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Kansas Speedway Repave Will Make Drivers Testy

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 20 2012

A new surface means more track time at Kansas Speedway for NASCAR teams and drivers later this year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Following Sunday’s STP 400, the racing surface at Kansas Speedway will join the growing list of NASCAR tracks experiencing a facelift.

In 2011, Phoenix International Raceway was completely revamped. Speedways in Michigan and Pocono recently received a fresh coat of asphalt.

Officials at Bristol Motor Speedway are scheduled to lay out plans next week for a track re-configuration expected to take place this summer.

And when NASCAR returns to Kansas in October, the drivers will be greeted by new pavement and variable banking.

That will mean an extra day of testing, which five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson welcomes.

“I look at (the track repaves) as an opportunity,” Johnson said. “Whoever figures it out first will have the advantage and win.

“I’m excited for the opportunity, and I love to test. I love to be at the race track learning, and am excited to have testing at tracks we race at. We can really get data files on tracks other than Milwaukee or Nashville, and these tracks that we don’t race at anymore. I’m happy we have some testing at the real tracks on the correct tire.”

After sitting on the pole and leading 69 laps at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night, it appeared for

Martin Truex Jr. continues to build. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

a while that Martin Truex Jr. might snap a 173-race winless streak dating back to a victory in Dover, Del. in June 2007.

But a miscue by the Mayetta, N.J. driver when he slightly overshot his pit stall during a green flag stopped cost him valuable track position he was unable to regain en route to a sixth-place finish.

Instead of dwelling on what might have been, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver chose to put a positive spin on last weekend’s disappointment in the Lone Star state.

“I think for us it’s a building process,” Truex said. “It’s obviously built confidence in me and built confidence in the team. We know we need to get a little better, but we’re getting close.

“Our car was really good the first half of the race last week and off just a little bit in the second half. But we were right there. We could see the leader all night and we led laps throughout the race.

“It really just gives a great outlook that we’re close.”

Greg Biffle was among the contingent of drivers that meet President Barack Obama at the White House earlier this week.

Biffle was asked on Friday if he could take Obama for a ride in his No. 16 Ford which facility he would select.

“A couple tracks come to mind,” Biffle said. “One would be Bristol because it’s bad ass fast and people probably don’t understand what it’s like being inside that car.

“Or at a place like Texas, Charlotte, Atlanta or one of our 205-mile an hour getting into the corner race tracks that have a lot of grip on a new set of tires. That will wake you up on what it’s like to sit inside there for 500 miles.”

When asked if Jimmie Johnson is a better driver than him, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fired back that he holds the upper-hand over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

“No, he’s a hell of a race car driver, but I feel like I’m the best,” Earnhardt said. “I think that’s the way you have to feel.

“I feel that I’m smarter than everybody and I can drive better than everybody and I know a lot of people ain’t going to agree with that, but I feel pretty strong about it.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 20 2012
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