Grand-Am teams came away pleased following their open test on the new 2.37-mile infield road course at Kansas Speedway. The consensus was that while still green, the track was smooth and fast.
“I like it a lot,” said Roush Performance driver Shelby Blackstock. “The banking is really fast. You're flying on the banks. This is going to an amazing venue for fans next year with the casino right here and a [Rolex Series] race at night. Just an awesome place.”
Teams from the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge ran Saturday and Sunday on the new track in crisp, cool weather (40s and 50s) that aided both engine performance and tire grip on the less-than-seasoned race surface. Both series will compete at Kansas Speedway next season, on Aug. 16-17.
Ozz Negri topped Saturday's Rolex Series speeds with a fast lap of 123.080mph (1 minute, 9.321 seconds) in Michael Shank Racing's No. 60 Riley-Ford DP, posted in the final session. Negri had the fastest DP lap in all three sessions, while Joao Barbosa, lead driver in the No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP, leading the final Rolex Series session – and the two-day test overall – with a lap of 123.405 mph (1:09.138).
“This is a pretty good indication of how it's going to be [when we race],” Negri said. “The track is so smooth, and even though it's green there was a tremendous amount of grip. This is definitely the quickest oval section of a course I've experienced in Grand-Am – even quicker than Daytona. It's also probably the toughest braking zones we've seen. It's all going to make for some very interesting racing."
Barbosa added that the circuit was more complex than it looked.
“This new track may seem simple at first but it's easy to make mistakes so it was useful to be here," he said. "This place is fast and quite challenging which will make things interesting when we race.”
In the Rolex Series' GT class, Christopher Haase laid the fast laps down in all six sessions over the two days, in the No. 52 Audi R8. Among CTSCC drivers, Blackstock's Roush Performance teammate Billy Johnson was fastest, driving the No. 61 Ford Mustang.