SPARTA, Ky. – Weepers creepers.
Already regarded as the roughest surface on the Sprint Cup circuit, Kentucky Speedway has thrown another curveball this weekend – water persistently seeping through the cracked and weathered asphalt.
Though there were enough patchwork repairs for an Xfinity practice and Camping World Truck Series race Thursday, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch said the weepers can’t be eradicated.
“This place is a little treacherous and kind of tricky, and it certainly has some aspects you don’t see at some racetracks we go to,” said Busch, who won the track’s inaugural Cup race in 2011. “Being very bumpy is No. 1 on the list. Being wet while still racing out there is another one. This place has really bad weepers that are hard to get rid of.
“Last night, the frontstretch got really wet as the (truck) race went on. That’s never any fun to have to dodge other spots on the track and be around other competitors, but it’s kind of what we’re going to have here. It’s a tough racetrack. I look forward to the challenge. It makes it tougher on everybody. There’s no way around it if we want to get the race in this weekend. The only way for this place to dry out is to not have rain for a week.”
The rain returned Friday morning during Sprint Cup practice, 49 minutes into a session that had been scheduled for three and a half hours.
After rain had washed out four hours of practice Wednesday and a two-hour session Thursday, Friday’s abbreviated practice might be the only opportunity for NASCAR’s premier series to test a new lower-downforce rules package in advance of Saturday night’s Quaker State 400.
Several drivers have said a limited amount of practice still would suffice to prepare. The truck circuit raced Thursday night without any practice on the 1.5-mile oval.
“I would like to get some practice time, but if they line us up and we race, that might be the best race of the year,” Busch said. “I thought the truck race was phenomenal. Those guys were out of control, sideways, hanging on, trying to make their stuff better. You never want to be that way as a driver. But as the fan watching it, it was actually pretty cool.”
Busch also is in favor of the lower-downforce package as a way to improve the entertainment value, but he cautions about the pitfalls of consistently delivering a decent on-track product.
“It’s hugely difficult,” he said. “You can have it perfectly right and put on a great finish one time at a great track and then go back with the same package, and someone hits on it, they check out, and it’s boring.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to being able to make it perfect every single time. I think a lot of fans respect the sport for what it was and what it’s become. There are some fans that want to see us eight-wide across the start-finish line every week for the win. That’s just not practicality.
“Even if the situation did arise, you’re going to get what you got last week at Daytona (which ended with Austin Dillon’s airborne crash). It was three-wide and eight rows deep, and it was a mess. That’s just not safe for the fans or the competitors. There’s a way to put on good racing. For those who respect racing for what it is, they’ll see good racing in their own mind.”