LONG POND, Pa. - Pocono Raceway's repaved 2.5-mile track is making a good first impression with NASCAR's Sprint Cup drivers.
On Wednesday, the second day of a Goodyear tire test at the raceway, drivers offered favorable reviews of the track.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, predicted that his track qualifying record of 172.533 mph, set in June 2004, will be broken.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Chevy, said, "The corner speeds are way, way quicker,"
The new asphalt is changing McMurray's mind about Pocono.
"I hated this place," he said. "This was my least favorite track to come to. After a few laps [Wednesday], with the speed and the grip it has, I think most guys will like this a lot more."
Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson wasn't involved in the tire test, but on a Tuesday conference call, he said drivers expect the track to be "very smooth and very fast."
The first Cup race on the new track surface will be June 10. The second Pocono race is Aug. 5. Both races have been reduced from 500 miles to 400 miles.
- Bill Fleischman