Speeds catching attention of drivers at Kansas

  • Article by: DAVE SKRETTA
  • Associated Press
  • April 21, 2013 - 8:54 AM

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Matt Kenseth qualifying on the pole for Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway turned some heads.

So did the way in which he did it.

Kenseth was among four drivers who shattered the record at the 1 1/2-mile tri-oval, thanks to the combination of a repaved surface from last summer and the newest generation of Sprint Cup cars.

Kenseth's qualifying lap of 191.864 mph came after Sam Hornish Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards each eclipsed Kasey Kahne's lap of 191.360 set during the Chase weekend last October.

"Speed-wise, it's pretty close to last year," said Kahne, who only managed to qualify in the back half of the field. "Just with the Gen-6 car being a little faster."

The new Sprint Cup car, designed to better replicate production cars found in dealer show rooms, has proven to be fast just about everywhere it's gone. Track qualifying records had already been broken at Bristol, Martinsville and Texas before the teams arrived this weekend at Kansas.

The track itself has been the other part of the equation.

Along with freshly laid asphalt for last fall's race, the entire track was regarded to create progressive banking. The result has been some of the quickest speeds ever clocked at the speedway — at least, outside of when IndyCar used to visit the track.

"It is mind-boggling how fast it is out there," said Jeff Gordon, a two-time winner at Kansas. "It's hard for my old brain to process some of the speeds that we're carrying out there."

The fastest lap of the weekend was turned by Edwards in practice, when he took advantage of the draft to post a speed of 192.055 mph. And every driver in the field has turned laps well in excess of the pre-repave qualifying standard of 180.856 mph, set by Kenseth in 2005.

"I'm telling you, it's insane," Gordon said. "The cars have a lot of grip, which allows you to push the limits of them. This car has a lot of down force, and then track and the tire and (cooler) temperatures also have a tremendous amount of grip."

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