Just how different is Texas after the repave?

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 07: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Trevor Bayne wasn’t among the casualties in Friday’s opening practice at Texas, but his 41 laps on the newly paved, reconfigured track gave him an appreciation for just how tricky the surface is.

“It is a little treacherous,” Bayne told the NASCAR Wire Service after the session. “You come in, and your crew chief wants feedback, and you’re like, ‘Man, I’m just trying to survive right now.’ When you’re on the race track, it requires every ounce of your focus and attention. It will bite you. We’ve seen that a lot today.

“If you miss the groove by a tire-width, you can be in trouble. On our last qualifying run, I got up kind of high. I can’t wait until this place widens out. Obviously, we are already talking about that the first time here. That will happen over time. I would love to run a bigger arc into Turn 1, but where they put the rubber down you just can’t do that yet.”

In addition to the repaving, the first and second corners at TMS now are wider, with shallower banking than before. Coupled with the lower-downforce rules package introduced in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year, the lower banking presents a major challenge.

“The banking not being there in (Turn) 1 definitely gives the car an uneasy feeling as you turn off the wall,” said Bayne, who was 13th fastest in the opening practice. “You’re working on ‘loose in’ (a loose handling condition into the corner) a little bit. It’s going to be interesting. Dirty air is going to be tough when you’re already loose like that.

“We have to be patient with repaves and understand in the future that the less banking and things like that are directionally correct to get corner speed and aero-dependence down. I think they’re making good decisions. I’ve always loved Texas, but part of that was the worn-out pavement. Hopefully, I have a new reason to like it this weekend.”

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