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Tire test portends higher speeds at Kansas

April 15, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

The Sprint Cup Series will race at Kansas on Saturday, May 10

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- More than a dozen Sprint Cup Series teams converged on Kansas Speedway for a Goodyear tire test Tuesday in preparation for the track's first night race next month.

Goodyear allowed one car per organization to the single-day test, held in advance of the May 10 event at the 1.5-mile track. About 15 teams took part on a cool spring day that portended potential track record speeds at a facility where Matt Kenseth set the existing mark of 191.864 mph in qualifying last April.

"The speeds are going to increase," Brian Vickers told reporters during a lunchtime media session. "… What we're working on today is to come up with a great tire to provide great racing. Goodyear is always in constant pursuit of that. Sometimes we nail it, sometimes we miss a little bit. But for night racing, speeds typically increase, and that always presents extra challenges."

Although the track hosted its first Sprint Cup weekend in 2001, temperature extremes in the region led officials to surface the facility in 2012. Speeds jumped as a result, and last fall Goodyear brought to Kansas its multi-zone tread tire, which combines one compound designed for traction and another toughened for durability. Different multi-zone combinations have also been used for races at Texas and Atlanta, and another is planned for next week's event at Richmond.

"It seems like they hold up better, which is good," Martin Truex Jr. said. "They worked good at Atlanta when we ran them, they worked good here last year. It's just all about the teams trying to get everything they can out of the race car, and they use these tires up. So hopefully they'll hold up good enough, and we'll be able to go fast all day long."

Particularly since speeds at Kansas seem to be going up. "No one needs to wonder if the track record will get broken … when we come back," Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, wrote on Twitter during a break in Tuesday's test. Although no one provided a specific speed, everyone expected the pace to pick up for next month's race weekend.

"It's going to be really fast," Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said. "Hopefully we can continue to get this track wider and wider every time we come back. It seemd like the groove gets more spread out through the corners, and the winter this year looks like it's aged it pretty quick. So it's a good thing. Hopefully we can pick out the right tires today so we can have some good racing when we come back."

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