Speedway keeping drivers happy with rough track
By John Bombatch Sports Editor email@example.com
CINCINNATI — Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5-mile paved race track with its own character.
Drivers love the place because it takes a true champion to figure out the right setup to maneuver over and around all of the track’s humps and bumps. Fans love going to the track, because there’s really not a bad seat in the house.
Track General Manager Mark Simendinger said he’d like to keep it that way for as long as he can. He and former NASCAR driver and current television race analyst Ricky Craven were on hand with other racing dignitaries to discuss the upcoming 2014 season, Wednesday, at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse in downtown Cincinnati.
“We’re not planning to repave the race track. All the drivers have come to me and they’ve said ‘Please, please keep the track the way it is.’ Ricky, I know has talked to a lot of the drivers about the track. It’s very bumpy. It’s going to be hot, so it will be slick, and it’s not that easy to drive. We think that’s a good thing,” Simendinger said. “Our goal is to keep the track that way for as long as we can. It’s a lot of maintenance for us to do it. The track is older in its life, so we have to baby it, but the goal is to keep the track the way it is.”
After qualifying on the pole for the Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race last summer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. echoed those same sentiments.
“It’s got a lot of age on the asphalt, which we like. You can run the bottom or the top, you have a lot of different options. You’re not really restricted or limited to where you can run in the corners and we don’t really mind the bumps in the corners. It just kind of adds character if they’re not too severe,” Earnhardt said. “There some pretty bad bumps on the front straightaway that aren’t a ton of fun, but they don’t really effect how the car drives. You just kind of go through them. I enjoy the track. It’s a great area. We’ve got a lot of fans here and it’s a fun track to race.”
Craven was glad to hear that Kentucky Speedway officials had no immediate plans to repave the track.
“Even though I’m not competing, I’m very excited to hear that you’re not going to repave the track,” Craven said. “The drivers love to be challenged, and there’s no greater challenge than for them to have to transition across a less-than-smooth track, especially a multi-lane track. They don’t want single-lane racing and I don’t think that you do, either.”
Simendinger announced a new five-year sponsorship extension with Quaker State motor oil for the track’s marquee event, the Quaker State 400, presented by Advance Auto Parts NASCAR Sprint Cup race, which will take place the night of June 28 at the Sparta, Ky. track.
The Ford Motor Company has announced continued support of the facility, and VisitMyrtleBeach.com has added its sponsorship to the Sept. 20 NASCAR Nationwide Series stock car race.
Simendinger announced that there will be a six-hour Sprint Cup Series test session at the track on June 25, the day before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the track, and two days before the Nationwide Series makes its first visit to the track this season. He confirmed that Kentucky Speedway will employ the new Air Titan track drying system which NASCAR is implementing at all of its tracks in an effort to speed up the track drying process this season.
For ticket information for the 2014 season events, please visit KentuckySpeedway.com.
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