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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]
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, July 27, 2014 the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, July 27, 2014 the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, July 27, 2014 of the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, kisses the Brick after his win Sunday, July 27, 2014 of the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
The #24 Axalta Chevrolet crew celebrates in pit lane after driver Jeff Godron`s victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, salutes the fans after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, center, celebrates with team owner Rick Hendrick, left, daughter Ella Sophia and wife Ingrid Vandebosch by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, races the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualified 2nd fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Next to him on the front row will be pole winner Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, was the fastest qualifier Saturday, July 26, 2014 to capture the pole position for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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