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Drivers test new Goodyear tires at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. ? That fast lap turned in by Jimmie Johnson, just as Thursday's open test session at Kansas Speedway was drawing to a close?

"Jimmie was fast? That's weird," NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth deadpanned.

"I don't think top speed on the board really meant a lot today. ? I mean, we were 13th on the board and we weren't near that good. That made it look a lot better than we ran most of the day. I don't think that one lap on the board meant a lot ? unless you're on the top and then it meant a lot."

"It meant a lot to me," said Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards, who spent a lengthy portion of the day with his No. 99 Ford atop the scoring pylon. "Most of the practice it meant a lot; at the end it didn't mean anything."

Johnson, the five-time Cup champion, is currently second in points, trailing Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) by eight points after three races in this year's Chase For The Sprint Cup. Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 here is stop No. 4 in the 10-race Chase. 

Johnson snapped off a lap of 182.648 mph to displace Edwards (182.531) for the top position.

Kurt Busch (Furniture Row Racing), Jeff Burton (Richard Childress Racing) and Paul Menard (RCR) rounded out the top five.

Thirty-eight teams were on hand for the open test and a chance to get better acquainted with the new Goodyear zone tread tire that will be used in Sunday's race. 

It will be the second time this season Goodyear has provided a tire built with the zone tread technology, a process that combines two different compounds on the surface of the tire.Zone tread tires were also used last month at Atlanta.

Because of the fast speeds expected, coupled with lack of tire wear, left-side tires here this weekend feature a more tractive compound that provides increased grip.

Goodyear officials said the outside of the right-side tires consist of the same compound used at Kansas previously while the inside three inches feature a more heat resistant compound.

Overall, most seemed pleased with the tire selection.

"Right now I would say it's a better tire," Jeff Gordon said. "I don't think any of us like the box that Goodyear is put in when we come to a newly surfaced track and have to put a rock hard tire on there for durability.

"It's not because that is the best performance tire - it's because they have to play it safe because of the high heat and the speeds that we are running. Right now what I'm feeling it feels good." 

Morning rain delayed the start of the test, but the sky cleared and the temperaturerose as the three-hour session progressed. 

"At the beginning of the day the tire had a ton more grip, I thought," Edwards said, "and as it rubbered up, the track got a little slicker and my car was a little bit loose into (Turn) 3, so I'd kind of back it down in there and you could actually drive it. 

"It's not knife-edge, hard-to-drive. I believe you'll see two- and three-lane racing. It appears that way, so I think it's good. I can't tell how much fall-off there is because I only made about a five- or six-lap run."

John Darby, Sprint Cup Series Director said officials "didn't see anything, which is good news."

"We've had test days like this before where the end result was Goodyear scrambling ? to get six more trailer loads of tires in here ? to help work through the problem," he said. " ? It's a lot more secure feeling when there's 43 guys all nodding and acknowledging the fact that they're not going to have a problem." 

Sixth through 10th in the session were Joey Logano (Penske Racing), Kevin Harvick (RCR), Kyle Busch (Gibbs), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush) and Nationwide regular Justin Allgaier (Phoenix Racing). 

One Cup practice is scheduled Friday, with qualifying slated to begin at 5:10 p.m. ET.

Kenseth, a winner in the first two Chase races, won both the pole and the race here earlier this season.

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