Sparta, Kentucky (WAVE) Whether you're in the stands in Sparta on Saturday night or just watching on TV, you'll notice the newly repaved surface at the Kentucky Speedway. It's been a huge part of their marketing campaign heading into Saturdays Quaker State 400. In the past all the talk had been about all the bumps on the track, so just how much smoother is it? We jumped in a car to feel it for ourselves.
Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger was our driver and tour guide. This wasn't his first lap around the track.
One of the more noticeable changes is the increased banking in turn one. From 14 degrees to 17 degrees.
"They'll be two wide obviously but they'll probably fan to three wide. The interesting thing is they'll come out and they'll shoot, and you can even see where we put the rubber in, see where we put the rubber in is up higher, it's not down low," Simendinger said. "They're going to come up here because they like to come up here and then they go down to take that turn."
NASCAR teams sent drivers for some test laps last month, but to get even more rubber on the track, Kentucky borrowed a tool from the Kansas Speedway.
"You can even see, you see how the tires are turning, they're actually turning in the opposite direction of the direction that they would be going," Simendinger said when describing the tractor, called a Tire Dragon.
The multi million dollar project also means improved drainage. "In the old days, we were talking about it, with all the rain that we've had here recently, we would have water seeping up out of the race track just intermittently and for no reason," Simendinger said.
A new racing surface awaits what will be the sixth visit by NASCAR's Sprint Cup drivers.
Simendinger is ready to see some results. "You know there's only so many coats of paint we can put on stuff around here guys, I mean, the place looks fantastic, I'm just really excited to see what competition on this track is going to be like."
The green flag drops on the Quaker State 400 around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. You can watch the race live on the NBC Sports Network.