Fresh pavement at Kentucky Speedway is another variable for drivers

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Toyota, lead the field in a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on July 9, 2016 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Getty Images)

SPARTA, Ky. – Last year, a repaved, reconfigured racing surface at Kentucky Speedway greeted drivers for the July tripleheader weekend at the 1.5-mile track.

This year, drivers will have to contend with another two-inch overlay of asphalt, which was added last October to prolong the life of a repaving job from the previous spring.

Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones and Jamie McMurray tested tires for Goodyear at Kentucky on May 9-10. With the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series also scheduled to race this weekend, Jones hopes the track will be broken in for Saturday’s Quaker State 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Toward that end, the speedway also has made extensive use of the tire dragon to lay rubber on the asphalt prior to this weekend.

“It’s back to a full repave again, essentially,” Jones said on Thursday at Kentucky. “They came and they did the tire dragon before we got on track (for the test in May), but it rained the entire first day so it washed it all off and then had to kind of run it back in, so it felt like Texas really – just a full repave.

“Hopefully, with the trucks being out there all day (Wednesday), the truck race (Thursday night), XFINITY practice today, it’ll be pretty worked in for the Cup cars here (for Friday practice). But it’s still a whole new repave, a whole new deal again.”

So is the right-side tire Goodyear has supplied for the Quaker State 400. It features a softer compound that should provide more grip but will wear more quickly than last year’s right sides.

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