Is the bottom groove at Bristol getting faster?

Cars race during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Cars race during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn.—Drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway are starting to like it on the bottom.

Ever since the grinding of the concrete racing surface in 2012, the top lane has been the fastest way around the .533-mile short track, but that may be changing.

During qualifying runs for Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes on Friday afternoon, Kasey Kahne moved to the bottom of the track and found speed there.

“My first qualifying attempt was through the middle, and I just didn’t have quite the speed that I wanted, so I ran the next two around the bottom, and I felt like I picked-up when I was down there,” said Kahne, who qualified eighth for Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Bynres (1 p.m. ET on FOX), the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to crack the top 12. “The track has been interesting today. To me, there’s been a little less grip up high, compared to what it’s been for a while here.

“Usually in practice and qualifying you’re a bit higher than what we were today. So, I was a little surprised by that. But it’s still a long ways away from how it’s going to be for race day, and during the race, it will change as well. I think maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe we’ll be able to race all over the track on Sunday rather than just as much on the top. That would be good.”

The question remains whether the short way around the bottom of the track will continue to provide speed once the racing surface gets rubbered in during Sunday’s race.

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