If it were up to Matt Kenseth, NASCAR and Goodyear would not have made a change in tires for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Kenseth has won both races at Kansas Speedway since the 1.5-mile tri-oval was repaved and re-banked in 2012. But NASCAR and Goodyear decided to try a new, multitread tire for Sunday's race, and the Sprint Cup teams spent three hours Thursday testing the new rubber.
"I would have rather left everything alone," said Kenseth, the points leader in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. "Especially after (Thursday). It was a struggle. Whenever anything is working good for you, you like to leave it the same. But it's the same for everybody. You just have to figure it out."
Upon hearing that, Columbia, Mo., native Carl Edwards chimed in: "Anything that is bad for him is good for the rest of us."
Jimmie Johnson, fresh off his win at Dover, topped the charts in testing with a top speed of 182.648 mph. Edwards was second fastest at 182.531 mph, and Kurt Busch was third at 181.971.
"We were extremely fast, so that was good," Edwards said. "The tire seems to drive really well. The track changed a lot throughout the session, so I think we're going to see changing track conditions throughout the whole race. It took a lot of rubber and, really, I thought got a lot slicker, so I think it's going to be a two or three-groove race track, which is great for all of us."
The tire test, originally scheduled for noon, was delayed an hour because of morning rain. Because it may be 30 degrees colder on Sunday, Thursday's test may not turn out to be much help.
"The temperature is going to be a big factor, and it's also supposed to possibly rain (tonight)," Edwards said, "so we might see the same problem Saturday, trying to get the cars tuned in with the changing track."
After two races on the new surface, Goodyear said it needed to increase the grip on the left side of the car, which will make it faster. That however, will put more stress on the right sides, so the multizone tire was developed with two distinct read compounds on the same tire, one for traction, one for endurance.
"I give Goodyear a lot of credit for bringing this tire here and trying to give us something to lean on on these smooth racetracks," Jeff Gordon said. "To put some softer compound in there to give the car a little bit more forgiveness . . . so when the car slides around, you can recover from it. . . . I love it."
Sprint Cup director of competition John Darby was pleased with what he saw in the new tires.
"The best answer is we didn't see anything," Darby said. "We've had test days like this before where the end result was Goodyear scrambling to get six more trailers of tires here to help with problems.
"But it's a lot more secure feeling when there's 43 guys all nodding and acknowledging they're not having a problem."
(c)2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services