Practice for the inaugural Busch Series race at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway kicked off today with two practice sessions, and rookie Greg Biffle posted the fastest lap in the morning practice session with a time of 31.606 seconds (170.854 mph).
Practice for the inaugural Busch Series race at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway kicked off today with two practice sessions, and rookie Greg Biffle posted the fastest lap in the morning practice session with a time of 31.606 seconds (170.854 mph). Veteran Elton Sawyer, who has been on a hot streak as of late with no finishes outside of the top 11 in the last six races, posted the 11th quickest time of the session (32.079 seconds, 168.403 mph) in his Kansas State Ford. Both drivers commented on the track during the break between the two practice sessions.
-60- Grainger Ford Taurus -
YOU TESTED HERE A FEW WEEKS AGO. DID THAT HELP YOU ADAPT TO THIS TRACK QUICKER THAN THE REST? "Really, we were in the top five most of practice and then we did a qualifying run right at the end. I think we were one of the only teams to get our car in race trim and that might have showed on that last run with us posting the fastest time. I think maybe the 87 did and a few others, but the 10, 57 and 2 didn't get in qualifying runs. It's sort of comparing apples and oranges a little bit, but like I said, we were fifth on the board before that run and that puts us right up there in the hunt. I think that's what you want to come out of here with today - the feeling that you're in the hunt. We'll work on race runs this afternoon and everybody is probably going to work on qualifying runs, so again, the second session might not be a good gauge of how fast you are."
THERE WEREN'T MANY TEAMS THAT TESTED HERE. HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES TO THE TRACK'S SURFACE SINCE THE TEST? "It's pretty much the same track. We seem to be struggling to get front grip that we had here earlier. We're just losing it in the front."
DO YOU PLAN ON SCUFFING TIRES? "It's nice to scuff them if you can for qualifying, but we need to see if NASCAR will let us. We'll race with stickers the whole day, but we noticed in practice that this tire was a little better after we went out and ran on them once." WITH THE TWO SERIES HERE THIS WEEKEND AND THE EXTRA DAY OF PRACTICE, DO YOU EXPECT THE TRACK'S SURFACE TO CHANGE BETWEEN NOW AND THE RACE? "I really don't know what to expect from it. I don't know if it's going to get better or worse, but I'm thinking that as the rubber gets down, the track may get greasy and that may make it worse in terms of traction. We're struggling with front grip now, and that would make it even tougher. I think the track will continually improve as the number of races grows on it, but right now we may be racing single file."
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF CUP DRIVERS IN THE BUSCH RACE THIS WEEKEND. BASED OFF OF WHAT WE'VE SEEN THE PAST FEW WEEKS, DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE TEMPERS FLARE? "This is the time of year where drivers who are out of the points hunt take some extra chances thinking that they can win the race. I know the Cup drivers will be up there with us because they all have good equipment and good teams, and they may be the first ones to try working in a second groove. I think a lot of it will depend on how much the track allows us to race because the more lanes of grip that you have, there's a greater chance of passing and we saw what happened last week."
HAS THERE BEEN TOO MUCH ATTENTION PAID TO ALL THE BUMPING AND BANGING THE PAST FEW WEEKS? "I really don't keep up on everything that's going on, especially with all the stuff that's gone on lately. All I know is that I'm the only one who has ever had points taken away for something and I got the short end of the stick. I was the guinea pig, and I don't know why, but they chose me."
ELTON SAWYER -98- Kansas State/Starter Ford Taurus -
YOU DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO TEST HERE BEFORE TODAY, BUT THAT DOESN'T SEEM TO HAVE SLOWED YOU DOWN. "We unloaded very good, and I think that was the key to our early success. We had a setup in the car that was close and that makes this a lot easier. I was real pleased with the way we unloaded off the truck, I thought it was driving good. It's a brand-new facility, and it's very smooth so we didn't have to deal with any bumps or imperfections. It's very similar to Las Vegas and Chicago, but it doesn't have as much grip as we experienced at those places. Still, there's a lot of grip and we're not too worried. We kind of went through some drills there this morning and worked on our race setup and never put on new tires. We just kept working on the car and changing stuff until we felt it was a pretty good race car. We got faster as the practice went on and that's a positive."
HOW MUCH DO YOU EXPECT THE GRIP TO IMPROVE BY THE TIME THE RACE STARTS? "Usually, what you have is what you have and it usually doesn't get any better. Sometimes it will go away from you a little bit depending on the heat. But for the most part, what we had this morning will be the maximum. It's not treacherous or anything. It's not like everyone is going to go out and crash, but it's just not quite the grip we had at Chicago. I still think it's a nice facility, and it leaves the question of whether we can run two-wide. All the black marks and the way the groove is now, it's right on the bottom and no one has really wanted to venture out on the uncharted waters yet. You just don't want to go out there because the consequences usually aren't very good."
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS OF SCUFFING TIRES FOR THE RACE? "It's definitely something you need to consider and look at. I think a lot of what we did at Chicago is going to apply here. Goodyear has brought a good tire and I think that track position, as it was in Chicago, is going to very important because passing may be a little more difficult. You're going to have to play out all of those strategies to make sure that the last 20 laps you have the best tires and the best track position, and hopefully, you can win the race with that. That's going to be something all day that you will have to look at."