NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers split over Kentucky's bumps

A number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have called for a repave of Kentucky Speedway as the bumpy track has proved a challenge for many on the category's first visit

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers split over Kentucky's bumps

NASCAR's top series' inaugural race at the 1.5-mile venue takes place on Saturday night after drivers and teams had the chance to test for nearly seven hours during two open sessions before official practice took place on Friday, although only one of two Friday sessions planned took place due to rain in the morning.

After running in practice, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon called for a new surface to be laid for the track. Although he believes the racing line at the track is somewhat dictated by the bumps, he says in race conditions drivers will have to cope with them while running in traffic.

"There are those tracks that I just absolutely have to be repaved. This one would be one of them. It is very rough here," said Gordon.

"If you can find a way around the bumps, great. This is a pretty unique line that you run here. You really are wide into Turn 1, which helps you get around some of the bumps. When we get into the race, you're going to have to run those other lines if you're going to pass."

Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin believes that prominent bumps on the inside lane at Turns 1 and 2 make it hard to run side-by-side on restarts, making the choice obvious for those on the front row to pick the outside ahead of every green flag.

"Last night was a prime example," said Hamlin referring to Thursday's Truck Series race at the track. "Anybody that restarted on the bottom was done. You could not do anything at all. Passing was nearly impossible unless you made it really on the high side. So, it is rough. It's really, honestly, like two different racetracks from one groove to the next."

However Hamlin does not believe resurfacing is necessary now The track has seen NASCAR action since 2000, when Trucks raced at the venue for the first time.

"I think eventually we'll figure it out and we'll get better at it and hopefully the cars will work better over the bumps," Hamlin added. "For right now, I think the groove is just going to keep moving way up high and I think by tomorrow night you'll see it higher than what it was the first two races of the weekend.

"Everyone's trying to avoid [the bumps] because it upsets the car. I don't think you could really call for a repave simply based on that."

Stewart Haas' Ryan Newman believes the bumps give the track "character", although he too admits the track's undulations are getting quite marked in places.

"I've always said that we as drivers, speaking for myself in general, but we as drivers really like the older pavement, the older racetracks, the more character," said Newman. "This place here has a tonne of character and luckily it has more character on the straightaway than it does on the corners and I say luckily because I think that will inhibit us less form racing side-by-side because of that."

Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth called the track "ridiculously rough" and favours a resurfacing, as does Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch, who won Thursday night's Truck series race and dominated Cup practice on both Thursday and Friday - which earned him pole when it then rained.

"It's definitely really bumpy," said Busch. "We have to develop a package that will work around here and go through the bumps that will create our car's speed and still be able to maintain that speed, so it's not easy. It's a balancing act for sure.

"Like last night, I felt like my truck was too rough. My Nationwide car is pretty good and my Cup car is pretty good. There are shock packages you work on. Different things you do with the springs to try and help it out. It's a fine tune adjustment. You just have to work on it.

"From what I heard, they're [repaving] the infield here after this event and I certainly hope they are taking into consideration doing the racetrack."

Bruton Smith, founder of track owner Speedway Motorsports Inc, said a repave in being considered for 2013, while plans for a reconfiguration were announced on Friday by Kansas Speedway, another 1.5-mile venue.

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