Kentucky Speedway had the ‘Tire Dragon’ working overtime on Saturday.
The unique vehicle, whose purpose is to put an extra layer of rubber on the asphalt racing surface, worked the middle groove before Saturday’s rain-delayed Alsco 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
With four tires mounted on a rack behind a tractor, the Tire Dragon drags the tires around the racing surface, laying down rubber in much the same way as a Zamboni covers a hockey rink with a sheet of ice.
And before race winner Kyle Busch made it to the media center after taking his 88th checkered flag in XFINITY competition, the Tire Dragon was at it again, widening the racing lanes in turns one and two for Saturday’s Quaker State 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
After repaving and reconfiguring the 1.5-mile track in the spring, Kentucky added a two-inch layer of asphalt in October to prolong the life of the racing surface. The track used the Tire Dragon before a Goodyear tire test in May and prepped the track with an additional layer of rubber before the current tripleheader weekend.
Busch said the work with the Tire Dragon made a difference in the quality of competition for Saturday’s Alsco 300.
“Yeah, until they oiled down the backstretch and that lane getting into turn three (when the engine in Joey Gase’s Chevrolet blew and dropped fluid on the asphalt), I thought the track was really racy,” Busch said. “Hopefully, they can burn that in a little bit more down the backstretch, and that quick dry that they put down in order to take up some of that oil, they can burn that off and get it back to black instead of white.
“The other thing I saw was the race track was really good in (turns) one and two. It got really wide – and definitely nothing out there (in the high lane) to race in – but at least it’s safe if you do slip and get out there and you can still catch your car. There’s room for lapped cars to go out there and not feel that they’re going to crash.”