Speeds Climb in Pocono Test
June 7, 2012 | 12:41 P.M. EST
Jeff Gordon, defending winner of this Sunday's Pocono 400, is among the drivers testing the track's new racing surface this week. (Photo: Getty Images)
Sprint Cup Series teams continued to work in the new track surface at Pocono Raceway on Thursday as a two-day open test resumed.
AJ Allmendinger continued the assault on Kasey Kahne's eight-year-old track record today with a fast lap of 177.190 miles per hour in the morning session - more than four mph quicker than Kahne's mark that was set in 2004. Juan Pablo Montoya was second-fastest at 176.602 mph.
Mark Martin, who led Wednesday's opening day, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin completed Thursday's top five. All told, 35 of the 42 drivers participating have topped Kahne's mark - including four-time champion Jeff Gordon.
"They did a great job," said Gordon, defending winner of this Sunday's Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR. "The track is nice and smooth, with good grip. We've had some repaves where it's a handful and pretty slick. That's not the case at all today."
Kyle Busch returned from his victory in Wednesday night's Prelude to the Dream Late Model charity race in Rossburg, Ohio, to post the sixth-fastest speed on Thursday morning. Sprint cup Series points leader Greg Biffle was seventh with Kevin Harvick, Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounding out the top 10.
"We're in for a really good race come Sunday," said Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby, looking ahead to Sunday's 400-miler. "Goodyear's done an excellent job of matching the tire to the new surface. It will only continue to get better throughout the weekend. More of the racing surface gets rubbered in, grooves get wider and offer the ability to the competitors to turn into multiple-lane racing - especially through the corners, where it counts."
Testing was to conclude Thursday afternoon, with official practice/qualifying getting underway Friday in preparation for Sunday's Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR.