By HEATHER WILLIAMS
3:40 PM CDT, October 19, 2012
Make no mistake, this trip to the Kansas Speedway will be unlike any other. It's a completely different track.
"I think it is a wild card, but it won't be where there's going to be some Chase guys in the 30s because they wrecked and maybe, possibly some that win the race," said Spring Kansas winner Denny Hamlin "I think on strategy you easily could go one way or the other, so it's a wild card in that sense. You just hope that you're smarter or have things fall your way and cautions when you need them they fall -- things like that."
Since Hamlin pulled into victory lane in April, the surface was pulled up, progressive banking of 17–20 degrees added, and new pavement laid down.
"The things just got a ton of grip," said Kansas native Clint Bowyer. "Seems like you fight tight conditions and it's like you keep inching up on it, freeing it up, freeing it up, freeing it up -- all of the sudden the things busts sideways on you going 200 mile-and-hour and you're like, 'Put it back, put it back, too far, what the hell were you thinking.' And you go back and then you do that cycle all over again and kind of chase your tail."
But, the biggest thing drivers are concerned about this weekend is the speed. This track is fast, really fast. Most expect track records to be shattered.
“I’ll admit, it’s a little bit hairy at 191 for that qualifying lap,” said two time Kansas winner. Greg Biffle. “That qualifying lap definitely has your attention.”
And not everyone is a fan of the changes.
“I’m not a big fan of repaving anywhere, to be honest, and I enjoyed racing on the old surface at Kansas," said Kevin Harvick. "However, I understand they had some issues with the track that made (repaving) necessary."
Past winners at the Kansas Speedway include the aforementioned Biffle, Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Gordon has two wins in Kansas and he says that means absolutely nothing.
“I look at it as a new race track,” Gordon said. “We don’t think of it from any notes that we had from this track in the past. We pretty much just start from scratch. It’s like going to a brand new race track somewhere else. It looks completely different than it ever did before.”
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