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Jimmie Johnson tops speed charts in Kansas tire test

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jimmie Johnson topped the speed charts on Thursday afternoon during the Goodyear Tire test session at Kansas Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS spent most of the afternoon running inside the top 20, but vaulted to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup competition in the final half hour.

Thursday’s session, which was shortened by an hour due to morning rain fall, gave drivers a chance to test the new tire that will be used this weekend at Kansas Speedway. The tire is similar to the one Goodyear used at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September.

Johnson, a two-time Kansas victor, tallied 66 laps total and ultimately toured the 1.5-mile speedway in 29.565 seconds at roughly 182.648 mph. He was joined inside the top 11 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Gordon, winner of the 2001 and 2002 Kansas Cup contests, drove the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS on Thursday.  He completed 65 laps and posted the 11th-fastest time – all while running in race trim.

“It feels good,” Gordon radioed his team during the test. “I forgot how smooth this place is.”

Gordon later told the media that he gave Goodyear a lot of credit for bringing a more durable tire for the smooth Kansas Speedway.

“We build a lot of shoulder heat in the tire because of the high speeds,” Gordon said. “So when we say durable we mainly mean really rock hard.  So to put some softer compound in there to try to give the car a little bit more forgiveness and grip, I love it.  It worked really well at Atlanta.  That is the first time we ever raced this.  I really liked it there.  I’m not seeing anything that is odd or off today other than just really tight. We are seeing some tire wear which is a good thing. That is what Goodyear likes to see to dissipate that heat.”

The Time Warner Cable duo of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne focused a good bit of their test session on tweaking their Chevrolet SS race cars. Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, posted the 16th-fastest time.

Kahne recorded the 22nd-fastest time behind the wheel of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS.

Sprint Cup activity is scheduled to resume Friday morning at Kansas with a 90-minute practice time. Watch it live on FOX Sports 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying is set for 5:10 p.m., and that will air on ESPN 2.

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