SPARTA, Ky. -- Fourteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams kicked off a two-day organizational test here Monday at the repaved and reconfigured Kentucky Speedway.
The 1.5-mile track will host all three NASCAR national series -- Sprint Cup, XFINITYand Camping World Truck -- next month (July 7-9).
In addition to the repaving, the track has also undergone a change in Turns 1 and 2, where the banking has been increased from 14 to 17 degrees. The width of the pit road exit lane has also more than doubled, from 14 feet to 30 feet. As a result, the racing surface in those turns is now narrower, shrinking from 74 to 56 feet.
The banking and width of the racing surface in Turns 3 and 4 remains unchanged.
"Theres no way to really assess it 100 percent because it takes so long to clean the race track off and put rubber down," Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and the series points leader, said Monday during a break in testing.
"Really, the morning was just spent trying to condition the race track. I think (Turns) 1 and 2 have taken some rubber well; (Turns) 3 and 4 … I think that will be the problem spot to try and make the car handle as far as that goes. Definitely takes some time to get it all right but so far, so good."
The increased banking will likely mean that cars will be carrying more speed coming onto the backstretch and as they rush into the third turn. That change, combined with the current aerodynamic package used this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway and slated for use here next month, could make for some dicey moments.
"It's definitely going to make Turn 3 more challenging," Harvick, the 2014 Sprint Cupchampion, said. "I think that's already one trend that we've developed with this particular package -- this car is looser getting into the corner, which it should be with the spoiler cut off the back of it.
"It's going to be very similar to a Charlotte, Kansas-type speed once the track is where it needs to be. There is a bump where the two seams of asphalt meet that's about three quarters of the way around the corner that you're going to have to navigate. It doesn't do anything to the car right now other than move the car. But that will be one spot that you will have to navigate as the speeds keep coming up. By the time it's all said and done, you'll be well into the 28-second bracket."
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