At the end of the first official practice for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, it was Kevin Harvick topping the charts with a lap of 29.154 seconds.
Harvick was optomistic coming into this weekend, noting that the track surface at Kansas is still relatively new.
“It depends on the environment the track is in that will change the racing surface,” Harvick said. “The asphalt they use to pave these race tracks now is made to last a long time on roads and it’s really not the right asphalt to use for a racing surface. Tracks seem to age a little slower than they did in the past and it’s not really what we’re used to.”
He comes into the weekend looking to gain points as he currently sits fourth in points, 39 points back of Matt Kenseth. Harvick had a sixth place finish last weekend at Dover, though the 20th place finish at Loudon is what has set him back.
In 15 starts at Kansas, Harvick has one top-five and six top-10 finishes.
Kyle Busch, who historically hasn’t ran well at Kansas, was second quickest, 0.007 seconds behind Harvick. Busch feels this weekend is the second biggest test for his team and their Chase chances.
In 12 career starts at Kansas Speedway, he has only finished in the top 10 twice. The last two starts there he has crashed in both of them. One of the things he has going for him was he was one of the drivers that got to attend the tire test back in July and experience the new tire for the first time.
“We felt like with the unsuccess we’ve had the last couple times being there since the repave, the tire combination we had, it was just really, really hard for me to get a feel for the tire and the racetrack that I was looking for,” he commented. “We could run fast laps, post quick times in practice and qualifying. Just in the race when you get in traffic, everything starts changing, the rubber starts going down, it would throw us for a little bit of a curve.
“This time around, getting the tire test done, getting some information with the car, getting me more suited to the racetrack with a different tire combination, we felt like it was a positive for us. Certainly we hope those results will be indicative of how we run this weekend and we can have a better go of it.”
Coming into the weekend, Busch sits third in points, 12 behind Kenseth.
Coming off his weekend at Dover International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson was third fastest. Johnson currently sits second in points, eight behind Kenseth.
Mark Martin, who continues to drive Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet as Stewart continues to nurse his broken leg, was fourth quickest. Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
Kurt Busch was sixth followed by Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.
Points leader Matt Kenseth was 13th on the speed charts. Kenseth struggled to find comfort in his car during the test session on Thursday.
Qualifying will take place today with another practice scheduled for Saturday before Sunday’s race.