(Photo: Jim Dedmon, USA TODAY Sports)
CHARLOTTE — Responding to a mundane All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last week, track officials attempted to stoke passing at the notoriously sensitive 1.5-mile oval by applying a compound to increase traction used this season at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Numerous drivers experienced everything from wiggles to near-missed slides plying the high line, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson brushed the wall coming out of an applied area in a corner. Track officials had also used a device to apply grip-improving rubber to the corners, but heavy rains might have washed some of it away on Wednesday night.
"It’s just not very black, and it seems very dusty when we all rolled off this morning," said All-Star race winner Kyle Busch. "Interesting there, but other than that, you know, the cars were starting to put the rubber down and it was starting to get more black as practice progressed, but you get outside of that black just a little bit, and it seemed pretty slick."
Busch theorized that an Xfinity Series race on Saturday would help condition the track with additional rubber. The use of so-called VHT traction compound began in drag racing but has become a tool for tracks to increase racing grooves at places like Charlotte, which traction allows drivers to monopolize the shorter low lane.
"Years ago at my home track, they put it down in the outside groove to try to make an outside groove," he said. "It wasn’t noticeable the first week that they did it, but it took a few weeks for it to kind of get wore in and kind of groomed a little bit, and then it was actually not bad. I don’t know if we can groom it that fast here in just one weekend, but we’ll see."
Follow Brant James on Twitter @brantjames.