Practice for Saturday's inaugural Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway kicked off today as the 49 teams attempting to qualify for the Outback Steakhouse 300 were given an open test session to get acclimated on the 1.5-mile track. Practice...
Practice for Saturday's inaugural Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway kicked off today as the 49 teams attempting to qualify for the Outback Steakhouse 300 were given an open test session to get acclimated on the 1.5-mile track. Practice began shortly after 5 p.m. and concluded four hours later under the lights in conditions the teams hoped would be the same as the race. Jeff Green and Greg Biffle were the quickest Fords of the day with Green posting the fastest time and Biffle turning in the fourth quickest lap of the session. Both spoke about the their time on the track.
JEFF GREEN-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus (Fastest lap: 31.222 seconds, 172.955 mph)
YOU TESTED HERE IN NOVEMBER. HOW HAS THE TRACK CHANGED?
"I think the track has a lot of grip for as hot as it was today. It's just rougher; it has a lot of bumps that weren't here in November when we were here last. I know that we've got our race cars better than we had then and it's driving that way; it's driving better. What we're dealing with is the bumpiness of it, but I think we've got it figured out, so hopefully it will be OK for us."
WHAT DID YOU FOCUS ON DURING THE PRACTICE SESSION?
"We did qualifying early and we made two long race runs at the end. It's really, really good in both segments, so hopefully we've got something for them."
ARE THERE TWO RACING GROOVES ON THE TRACK?
"There are going to be. I got up on the outside there a little bit on that last segment and it sticks out there, so I know it's going to be two or three grooves by the end of the night on Saturday. But again, the guy who can run around on the bottom is probably going to win. I think you can move around to make your car better, and you can pass; that's the big thing. You go to a place like Texas or Atlanta, it's a one-groove race track and it's hard to pass, but I think this place is going to open up for us and give us some room to pass."
WHERE DO YOU PASS OTHER CARS ON THE TRACK?
"Coming out of the corners mainly. If you can get a run up off a guy, you're going to get by him on these long straightaways. This track is big enough where you can gain a lot of momentum by running through the corner a little faster. By the time you get to the other end, it's going to pay off dividends for you. It's going to make passing a little easier."
THERE WERE A COUPLE OF SINGLE-CAR ACCIDENTS IN TURN 3.
"I think it's the bumps. Guys are trying to overdrive the race track a little bit for the tires that we have. We have a really hard tire here. You have to be careful with it, and I'm letting off a lot more here now than when we tested because of that. I think we had Rockingham tires here when we tested and they have a lot more grip, but the day different. The track temperature today was 115 degrees and when we tested it was probably 70 degrees, and that's going to make for a lot."
SINCE THIS WAS AN OPEN TEST DAY, COULD YOU RUN AS MANY SETS OF TIRES AS YOU WANTED?
"For today we could. Now tomorrow is really the first day of the weekend's activities so we're limited as to the number of tires we get. You could have had all the tires you wanted today."
IS THAT ADVANTAGEOUS?
"We ran just as fast on 30-lap tires as we did on stickers. The tires are so good that they don't give up any, so that's probably going to make this a fuel mileage race again, which I don't particularly like because I've been bitten too many times. It's definitely going to come down to fuel mileage, I'm sure."
YOU DON'T HAVE TOO MANY PRACTICE SESSIONS DURING THE AFTERNOON FOR NIGHT RACES. WAS THIS A GOOD CALL?
"My hat's off to them to come in here and do that. When we have a night race, we're usually practicing at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day. It's just tough when you do that because you have to guess on the setups too many times. This gives a good idea of where it will be Saturday night and hopefully the practice we just had will pay off for us on Saturday."
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus (Fastest lap: 31.387 seconds, 172.046 mph) -
WHAT'S YOUR ASSESSMENT OF YOUR PRACTICE SESSION?
"It's not bad. I think the tire may be a little bit hard for what we're doing, but we'll just get used to it by working with it some more. We're close."
YOU RACED HERE IN THE TRUCKS LAST YEAR. DID THAT HELP YOU TODAY?
"Maybe a little bit because I know the track, but everyone in the top 10 has been here testing. That more be more of advantage for them because they've been here in the last month and we haven't been here since last year's truck race."
HOW HAS THE TRACK CHANGED SINCE YOU WERE HERE IN THE TRUCKS?
"It seems a little bit rougher. I'll bet what is happening is that it's settling. It certainly doesn't seem as smooth as when I was here in the truck, but then again, maybe I don't recognize it. It's still a great track and it has a lot of grip to it."
TURN 3 SEEMED TO HAVE MOST ACTION TODAY WITH DRIVERS SCRAPING THE WALL.
"It's probably the trickiest part of the track. It's real flat getting in there; that's a hard corner. You can really get into trouble there if you overdrive it."
YOU WERE NEAR THE TOP OF THE CHART IN LAPS RUN DURING THE PRACTICE SESSION. WAS THAT THE PLAN?
"We really didn't want to do that because we're not switching engines where most everyone probably is. We have to be careful on how many laps we run on it. It's a brand new piece, but we still want to be careful with it."
DID YOU FOCUS MORE ON RACE SETUP THAN QUALIFYING?
"We did mostly race runs. We did one qualifying run on stickers and backed it up with scuff tires."
WHAT TYPE OF RACING DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE DURING THE RACE?
"Two, three-wide racing on the straightaways. I think it's going to be pretty easy to pass here, so I expect to see a lot of people getting out of line. You'll be able to get a run off a guy in the corner and that's where you do most of your passing here. What will happen is a guy will start pushing, and you've got to keep car turning here. If you can't keep your car turning here, you're dead meat."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM TODAY'S TEST?
"It's quite a bit different from when I was here in the trucks and we tried to use some of the stuff we learned in Chicago this week testing. Nothing ever applies exactly from one race track to another."
DID YOU FIND THE NIGHTTIME PRACTICE SESSION ADVANTAGEOUS?
"Yeah, but it was an advantage for all the teams. You always like to practice in conditions you feel will be similar to those in the race, and I think this was a great call. We probably should have done some race runs later, but we did most of the race runs during the day. We should have saved the last half hour to do a race run, but we'll be all right."
ON A DIFFERENT SUBJECT, YOU WERE TABBED TO DRIVE ONE OF THE ROUSH TRUCKS AT MEMPHIS NEXT WEEKEND.
"I'm real excited about that. I enjoy racing and I kind of missed the trucks and Memphis isn't a bad place to get back behind the wheel of a truck. It won't be the trucks I used to drive, but it will be one of the ones Kurt drove. I got my first win at Memphis, so it brings back some fond racing memories. It also bit us a few times, but I'm ready to back there. The tire deal has changed a lot, the trucks have changed a lot, the carburetor is different and the rear wing has been moved back two inches. There are a whole lot of changes and I haven't been driving the trucks, so I'm going to have to adapt quick to get up to speed. Plus, it's obvious that the Dodge still has a distinct advantage aero-wise, and NASCAR is working on making it better, but I don't think they have it balanced perfectly. And, the competition is better; there are some tough cats over there. You've got Ted Musgrave, Joe Ruttman, and the 1 and 2 trucks are good."
YOUR TEAMMATE THIS WEEKEND WILL BE JON WOOD. WHAT WILL YOUR ROLE BE WITH HIM?
"I really don't know yet. I'm sure I'll be giving him advice and he'll be a teammate, so I'll want to help him as much as possible. Hopefully I can do that and maybe we can both walk out of there with good finishes."