Road course planning done at Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan.—There are more changes in the works at Kansas Speedway.
Officials received the final layout from their design team this week for a proposed road course through the infield, and construction is scheduled to begin after the April race.
Track president Pat Warren also said Friday he hopes one of the two Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway will be run at night in 2013. The track installed lights last year and drew about 25,000 fans last fall for an ARCA race run under the lights.
"I can tell you opportunities like this don't come along very often, but when they do you take advantage of them," Warren said. "We added lights to the track, last year we replaced 20,000 seats. We've done a number of things to the speedway itself."
Warren spoke to The Associated Press during the opening of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which was built overlooking Turn 2. The $411 million casino represents a joint venture between track owner
The infield road course will be visible from a patio connected to the casino.
"We always talk about Kansas Speedway being a unique destination," Warren said. "We are truly unique now in a sense of being a destination casino, and a hotel in the not-too-distant future."
The road course, which will be built in conjunction with a reconfiguration and repaving of the original 1 1/2-mile tri-oval, begins after the front stretch. Drivers will make a hard left and meander down the backstretch before a hairpin turn brings them back to the main speedway.
There are also configurations that allow for the course to be run as a mile-long road course contained entirely in the infield, and part of it as a smaller go-kart track.
The work will be finished before the October race weekend, though there won't be competitive racing on the road course until next year, when a Grand-Am stop is planned for Kansas Speedway.
"We haven't announced the date yet and I'm sure we will in the near future, but that'll be the first Grand-Am race here and give us road racing, and that will even diversify the fan base even more than it already is," said Lesa France Kennedy, the chief executive of ISC.
The repaving project has generated mixed reactions.
Some drivers argued last fall that the new surface would hurt the quality of racing at the track, while others pointed to cracks and potholes as potential safety issues. Some also are upset that 15-degree banking will be replaced by variable banking designed to make passing easier.
"I liked the old surface, too, but you have to repave at certain times," Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne said. "To repave now, it might take a few races to get back to where we want it, but overall it'll be good."
Kahne also said he's in favor of a night race at Kansas Speedway, something that Warren has been pushing for since the lights were installed last year.
It won't happen this season, but the track president is optimistic about next year.
"One day race, one night race -- the tracks change," Kahne said. "They race differently at night, so it'll be good. I'd be looking forward to that."