KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kansas Speedway is a track Jeff Gordon has mastered twice in his career – first in the inaugural running of the 1.5-mile oval and then again in the 2002 NASCAR Sprint Cup event. But after Wednesday’s test session at the newly repaved Kansas, Gordon admitted that notes and previous experience won’t help much as the team tackles the sixth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Sunday.
“This track went from pretty abrasive and wearing the tires out, to now it’s smooth and super-fast, and the times don’t fall off,” said Gordon, who is ranked ninth in the championship standings. “It’s basically like going to a whole new racetrack.”
Gordon joined his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and other Cup competitors Wednesday to test Kansas’s 1.5-mile track. A rain delay left the drivers with only about two hours of testing on the new surface, but that was plenty of time for Gordon and the others to break the track’s current qualifying record of 180.56 mph. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet turned a fastest lap of 181.513 mph.
“It will get faster,” Gordon said. “Tomorrow (Thursday) is when I expect the pace to pick up – and in qualifying.”
Kansas is the third repaved track on the 2012 schedule, and so far Gordon has averaged a 3.5 finish on the other two --Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway. He earned his first win of the season at Pocono on June 10.
Fans can watch Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates compete at Kansas on Sunday, Oct. 21 beginning at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN (check local listings).