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What makes Kentucky’s Turn 3 so difficult? Drivers weigh in

SPARTA, Ky. — One of the most difficult turns on the circuit awaits drivers this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Just two years after new asphalt was put down, the elusive Turn 3 has forced drivers and teams to put in extra time focusing on how the cars handle the dynamic difference in banking between the ends of the track.

Even drivers who have found success in the Bluegrass State such as Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones are challenged by Turn 3, one that will not ease up throughout the course of a race.

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“It’s become more difficult since the repave,” Jones explained ahead of Friday’s opening practice. “When they reconfigured (Turns) 1 and 2, it made them a lot faster. You carry so much speed into Turn 3 and it looks like you’re taking a hard left in a parking lot because it’s so flat and so wide.”

The driver of the No. 20 Toyota took home his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series checkered flag last weekend at Daytona, and may be a contender in Saturday’s night race at Kentucky (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In six starts between the Monster Energy Series and Xfinity Series, Jones has three top-five and five top-10 finishes at the 1.5-miler.

“If you can get your car handling really well down there, and really hooking the line well, and getting in the corners secure you’re going to be in a pretty good spot,” Jones said. “It’s not an easy thing to do.”

Busch, who arguably is the best driver at Kentucky, has seen Victory Lane twice and has five top fives and six top 10s in just seven starts.

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However, he acknowledges Turn 3 is not a turn you see outside of this track, providing another level of trouble if you don’t factor it into race strategy.

“It’s so much different here, Turn 3, than any other 1.5-mile we go to,” Busch said. “Normally other places you get to you start picking up a little bit banking before you get into the corner and here it’s so flat all the way down before you pick up the banking it just has its own characteristics and its own challenges that are tough to deal with.”

When asked what advice he could provide to help tame the turn, Busch made it simple: It’s up to you.

“How you interpret that corner or how you try to decipher that corner is what makes people good here, and I think how you can withstand some of the characteristics it gives you within your race car,” Busch said.