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Slippery Phoenix track could favor drivers with dirt experience

By admin | March 2, 2012

By Richard Allen


Friday’s practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series at the Phoenix International Raceway revealed one very clear fact. The track’s recently paved surface is very slippery as several cars spun or brushed the outside wall after loosing grip.

Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth briefly lost control of his Ford and slapped the wall. At first, the damage did not appear to be terribly serious on the #17 car but eventually the Roush Fenway Racing team opted to unload their backup car.

“Dumb mistake,” explained Kenseth after his brush with wall. “It just got away from me on cold tires.”

Several other drivers also experienced troubles of varying degrees. Ryan Newman’s team also had to pull out their backup Chevrolet after he got loose on a mock qualifying run and banged the wall with the right side of his primary car.

Hard tires brought by Goodyear to withstand the newly paved surface combined with blowing sand are the likely culprits for making the track slick. Those factors would seem to favor drivers who have extensive dirt track experience.

Tony Stewart, who just recently won a sprint car race on a dirt track in Georgia, is one of those in NASCAR who has raced countless laps on dirt. Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer are among several others to have slid their cars through the turns on a clay surface. That same feel may prove to be a great benefit on Sunday in ‘The Valley of the Sun’.

Kahne won on this track last fall driving for a team that was essentially slated for extinction in just two short weeks. If he could win for Team Red Bull then, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t win for powerful Hendrick Motorsports this weekend.

My prediction is that Kahne’s dirt experience, HMS equipment and crew chief Kenny Francis’s winning notebook from last fall will provide the winning equation on Sunday.

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3 Responses to “Slippery Phoenix track could favor drivers with dirt experience”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I think a slippery track is good for racing. And it’s really all about the racing and not purely about speed.

    When a track is slippery it puts more into the hands of the drivers and that is always a good thing.

  2. Charles Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Agree with Sue Rarick, I remember when Darlington was always coated with what they called ‘Bear Grease” in the old days.. it was real slick’….made for good racing…drivers got up on wheel and had to drive …

    I have about decided that anything thing that hurts speed and lessen the dependence on aero and downforce is better racing!

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 4th, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I’m with you on lessening aero, Charles.

    1. Keep the lower Daytona spoiler in the rear.
    2. Get rid of the side skirts.
    3. Get rid of the splitter and replace it with a roll pan and a blade spoiler no wider than the tread width.

    By reducing the pressure differential between the top and bottom of the cars aero becomes less a factor and mechanical grip more important.

    A. Coil Binding and bumpstop suspensions would give way to actual suspension movement again.
    B. Being able to pass on track would greatly improve lessening the chance of the dreaded ‘Gas Mileage’ racing.