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DATE News (chronologically)
04/22/11
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Speedway project postpones IndyCar testing  
IndyCar finishes at Kentucky are usually exciting
Construction work at Kentucky Speedway has prompted a two-day IndyCar test to be canceled and pushed back a NASCAR tire test to be pushed back.

The IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights had an open test planned for May 9-10 at the track. Teams were notified about the cancellation Wednesday and told IndyCar is looking into scheduling a one-day test at a similar oval.

Goodyear invited seven NASCAR Sprint Cup teams to a May 17 test at Kentucky Speedway to confirm the tire setup for the inaugural Quaker State 400 on July 9. That tire test now will take place June 1.

The date change could affect the driver lineup. As of last week it included Greg Biffle (Roush Fenway Racing, Ford), Kevin Harvick (Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (Penske Racing, Dodge), Travis Kvapil (Front Row Motorsports, Ford), Joey Logano (Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota), Mark Martin (Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet) and David Reutimann (Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota).

The culprit isn't the racing surface but construction going on around it. The rescheduling comes after crews recently removed the inside retaining wall from the exit of pit road, through Turns 1 and 2, and down much of the backstretch.
"We're doing some grading there and also putting in a new wall with the SAFER barrier," Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith said. "This is just to make it better and safer. That's what it's all about."

Kentucky Speedway installed the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier system along a portion of the inside backstretch wall in 2006 after NASCAR and officials from Nebraska's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility recommended to close a gap in the wall that the track's safety team had used as an access point. be closed off. NASCAR driver Jeff Fuller suffered a broken wrist and finger in the 2006 Busch (now Nationwide) Series race when he crashed hard into that exact spot.

"If there was a wrong spot to hit that was it," Fuller said Thursday.

As he exited Turn 2, Fuller had swerved to avoid hitting a wrecked car in front of him and sailed through a paved skid zone before slamming into the concrete wall where it angled in and created the gap. The skid zone is a wide space between the track and inside wall. It starts near the exit of Turn 2 and continues halfway down the backstretch.

Fuller's was the third serious incident involving the inside backstretch wall since August 2002, when actor Jason Priestley hit it head-on during an Infiniti Pro Series practice. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Rick Crawford hit the wall during a qualifying run in 2005; he was unable to start the race, ending a streak of 210 consecutive starts.

It remains to be seen if the new retaining wall will be moved closer to the track. The grading will help with drainage in Turns 1 and 2, where Kentucky Speedway has added new RV campsites in the infield, Smith said.

What's definitely moving is pit road – 200 feet closer to the grandstands.

"It was so misplaced," Smith said. "It was far away from the fans. I did this in Las Vegas and it was a huge success there as well."

The new pit road will have a bow to it and a new transition to help cars pulling off the track to pit.

Workers framed the pit stalls earlier this week and poured concrete Thursday. While The pit stalls will be concrete, but pit road itself will be asphalt.

The changes are part of a massive effort to get the track ready for its Sprint Cup debut, and to handle the more than 100,000 fans expected to attend the July 9 race.

"I think we've made some great strides," Smith said. "We've improved parking tremendously and the road system a great deal. Adding 12 more elevators and the extra camping and concessions and souvenirs, all the things we're doing there to accommodate the crowd, that's what we're about." Cincinnati.com

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