SPARTA, Ky. — Despite the unknowns going into this weekend in the Bluegrass State, drivers say this weekend’s race will be similar to Michigan.
During media availabilities yesterday at Kentucky Speedway, three drivers were asked how they feel the lower downforce package will affect the racing we’ll see in the Quaker State 400. A common response was that it will be similar to what we saw in last month’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
“I don’t know if it will have a different affect here than it has everywhere else, concerning the repave,” Keselowski said in his availability. “In general, the cars at Michigan were really, really loose behind someone. I would expect that to be the same and I would expect turns three and four to really, really be a challenge because it’s such a finesse corner already. Then you add the lower downforce package to it and it’s really gonna be a hold-onto-your-butt corner.”
He added that he’s “not sure I can fully answer that until the race is over. Hindsight is a lot better vision.”
Asked the same question during his availability, Austin Dillon said he thinks “you will see similar racing that you saw at Michigan. I think getting underneath a car is going to be the hardest part. I think you will be able to run closer to guys, but exit off the corner will be tough. Carrying speed off of Turn 4 is going to be tough like Brad was saying. Entering (Turns) 3 and 4 will be a challenge and then exiting beside somebody. But, with all the grip I think it will be very similar to any package that is out there because you have a lot of grip right now. Hopefully, it does present some passing lanes as we move throughout the weekend and create a strong race for us.”
Carl Edwards said “It’s really hard to tell. We talked about this at Daytona. The lower downforce package, if you go from where we were a year ago to where we are now with what they call the 2016 package, it’s been a marked improvement and that much better. We’ve been able to race better and the passing. I believe the lower downforce package is another step in the right direction. It’s tough to be able to determine that at Michigan, or here at Kentucky with a new surface – it’s really hard to get a guess of how that package will race at a place like Texas or maybe Phoenix or Homestead. I really believe we are going in the right direction.”
He also added that the idea of trying the lower downforce package at a track with a more abrasive surface like Darlington has “been brought up and the biggest thing is the drivers, NASCAR, team owners all have to agree – ‘Hey we feel okay trying this here.'”
“The only worry, and I think everyone, drivers, NASCAR, everybody worries that it’s going to be hard to determine how it would work at a place like Darlington or Texas or Homestead where there’s a little bit different grip level,” Edwards added. “Heck, we’re moving in the right direction. We’re trying these things that were on our wish lists a couple of years ago. If you go out there and look at the size of that spoiler and splitter, this is the stuff we were all as a group begging for. I just really appreciate NASCAR doing it. It’s only going to get better.”