Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS -

TIRES A HOT TOPIC Thurs­day night brings the first green flag waved over Ken­tucky Speed­way’s newly repaved and re­con­fig­ured track sur­face as the NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries kicks off a three-se­ries week­end at the Sparta, Ky., venue that will un­doubt­edly be dom­i­nated by tire talk. The Speed­way Mo­tor­sports Inc. fa­cil­ity opted for the new sur­face due to on­go­ing strug­gles with the original pave­ment that cre­ated se­vere bumps and drainage is­sues, and it also opted to make Turns 1-2 slightly dif­fer­ent (more bank­ing, more nar­row) than Turns 3-4 to boost com­pe­ti­tion. Dur­ing the first Sprint Cup test on the new Ken­tucky sur­face in June, there were sev­eral is­sues with var­i­ous Goodyear tire com­pounds blis­ter­ing and reach­ing the point of fail­ure. As a re­sult, Goodyear will bring a dif­fer­ent style of tire to Ken­tucky for Sprint Cup use that wasn’t tested. Ac­cord­ing to, that tire is more like the of­fer­ings used at Las Ve­gas Mo­tor Speed­way ear­lier this sea­son. TAK­ING BLAME Fe­bru­ary was painful for Tony Stewart as he was forced to miss his fi­nal Day­tona 500 due to in­jury. His re­turn over the week­end seemed to be go­ing much bet­ter as he rode most of the dis­tance try­ing to avoid be­ing swept into a ma­jor crash. His strat­egy worked to per­fec­tion when he avoided the 22-car, Lap 90 crash, but it fell apart as the No. 14 charged through the field late in the race. With 10 laps left, Stewart lost con­trol in Turn 1 and crashed. “I just over­cor­rected for it and drove it into the fence,” Stewart said. “So def­i­nitely my fault. I don’t know why I got loose, but I got loose go­ing into (turn) one.” Stewart won the July Day­tona race four times in his Sprint Cup ca­reer.

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