Kentucky Speedway Won’t Be The Same

Kentucky Speedway

With the repave at Kentucky Speedway, the 2016 running of the Quaker State 400 will be different. Saturday will only tell if it’s better or worse, but it will be different. Just the anticipation alone will make it worth checking out.

With surface repaved, gone will be the teeth-rattling ride. The Kentucky Speedway of old would not be the track I’d want to be on after eating a couple of hot dogs. The new surface will definitely be much easier on the hindquarters, and pole-sitter Kevin Harvick says he’s looking forward to less neck soreness.

That’s only the beginning. The entry to Turn One is narrower with the widening of pit road. The asphalt has a different quality to it. The banking has been tweaked on the south side of the track.

What the result will be in terms of racing remains to be seen. Regardless of how much practice the drivers will have at Kentucky Speedway, it’s always different once the green flag waves. You can have a lousy practice and figure the joint out by race time. You can tweak the car based on practice experience and have it all change once the action gets going in earnest.

I wouldn’t be real surprised to see most racers play it carefully to start. It will take a while to gain a level of comfort with the track. Then, once the laps begin to wind down, and the contenders get a little more aggressive towards the end, Kentucky Speedway could get quite interesting. If a winless veteran like Dale Earnhardt Jr. finds himself in contention, I look for him to get a little racier. Then there’s the kids. Victory has been within reach but elusive for Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney- among others. With a win here, the conversation gets a little more interesting concerning the newer faces to Sprint Cup racing.

There are many races where you know exactly what to expect. That won’t be the case this time at Kentucky Speedway. The intrigue alone will make it worth watching.