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Cup drivers test at new-look Phoenix

Cup drivers have been having their first real opportunity to try out the new-look Phoenix International Raceway, after a major remodelling and repaving project that began in March.
Phoenix International Raceway has been hosting its first full test session since the completion of the major repaving and reconfiguration project that began in March and which was finished in mid-August.

As well as a complete repaving of the 1-mile oval track, there have been a series of changes to the track layout intended to promote more side-by-side racing and that should improve lap speeds by 2-3mph.

Changes include widening the front stretch from 52 to 62 feet; reconfiguring pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls; pushing the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet while tightening the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet; and changing the banking - with 10-11 degrees between turns 1 and 2 and in the apex of the dog-leg, and 8-9 degrees in turn 4.

"This is a brand new facility," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "These teams will have to throw out their notebooks and start over."

"Nice to have that wide front straightaway," said Jeff Gordon. "I like the new pit road, as well. Getting used to the dogleg now on the back straightaway, which is quite a bit different than what it was before."

"The only place that seems familiar to me is Turn 3," agreed Regan Smith after his early laps on the raceway, on the first of two days of scheduled testing at the new-look Phoenix.

"The exit of Turn 2 is very unique; very different," commented Jeff Burton. "The back straightaway has a lot of banking and it's like falling into a hole; it's pretty cool and it is neat to do something different here."

"It's cool with the new banking," contributed David Ragan. "There is a little bit more speed."

As with any newly-repaved race track, there will be a period where the new surface is settling and sealing, and it will also need a lot of rubber to be laid down to allow the drivers to start feeling comfortable with it again.

"Anytime you repave a race track you always have that 6-8 month period where the asphalt is wearing," said Ragan. "It is curing and it is coming into its own. It gives us a hard time to figure it out, but the track will only get better with time."




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Mike Skinner, driving a Michael Waltrip Racing Electronic Fuel Injection NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, pulls onto pit road during a test on Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images for NASCAR]
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers David Ragan and Joey Logano test the repaved and reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway on Tuesday in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, (R) and Dave Handy, NASCAR Tyre Engineer, walk the new backstretch at Phoenix International Raceway on Tuesday in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images for NASCAR]
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, places the winner`s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A detailed view of the Brickyard 400 trophy prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, and David Ragan, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stand on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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