By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- There aren't any "No Passing" zones at Kansas Speedway, but in the first race on a repaved race track, there might as well be.
Kasey Kahne, who won the pole for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at the 1.5-mile track, believes racing at newly resurfaced Kansas will be similar to that at another track that got a new coat of asphalt this year.
"Once you get to a car -- go back to Michigan, for example," Kahne said. "Mark Martin caught the No. 47 (Bobby Labonte) and No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya), and they ran side-by-side and Mark just rode behind them. I caught them, and I went to pass Mark. Next thing you know we are all crashing. It was just the No. 47 and No. 42 screwed up, and then we are all crashing.
"(Martin) didn't go anywhere once he caught cars. I think they were probably in 30th or 35th -- I don't know how far back they were. Mark was at a dead stop. It makes it difficult for sure. This track is a little different than that track, so hopefully we will have a better shot at passing, and the longer those races went at Michigan the better the racing got and the more it opened up.
"The first race run there it was tough. You could hardly pass a car that you'd just reeled in that you were running five tenths (of a second) a lap faster -- you couldn't pass him when you got to him."
Drivers are hoping a full day of activity on Saturday -- including two NASCAR Sprint Cup practices, NASCAR Nationwide qualifying and a Nationwide race -- will get some rubber on the track and start to open up the second groove.
"All that will help the track," Kahne said. "If it gets a little warmer around here, gets some sun out, I think all that will help the track also -- to just get a better base to run on and hopefully move off that white line (at the bottom of the track) a little bit to where we can open up the entries and exits and have a better shot to pass if you are a good bit quicker than the car in front of you.
"Either way, it's going to be tough to pass regardless, but with all that rubber and the heat and things, hopefully it will help some. That's really all we can ask for after a repave."
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
It may not look like Kansas anymore -- at least not like the old Kansas -- but it's still a special place to Carl Edwards, who lives in Columbia, Mo., about two hours east of the speedway.
"It's still my home track," Edwards said Saturday morning. "It's a different surface, though, and it's so much faster. I was really nervous about the changes being bad for our team in particular, but we've been super-fast in practice."
In fact, Edwards was seventh quickest in Saturday's first session.
"For us, and for me personally, this race is as important as any race on the circuit," Edwards said. "A win here, this would be as big as any Daytona 500 that we could win, any Brickyard 400, any of that.
"This win that I plan on getting on Sunday is what we need to turn our whole season around and make this a great year."
After finishing second to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker in last year's championship battle, Edwards failed to make the Chase this season and currently is riding a 64-race winless streak.
A DIFFERENT DREAM
For the first time since 2005, Tony Stewart won't host the Prelude to the Dream dirt late model charity race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
The Dream itself, one of the premier national dirt late model events, features an expanded schedule this year, and the logistics of managing both events would have been too much to handle this year.
Besides, Stewart has had initial conversations with NASCAR about hosting a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the half-mile dirt track.
"Trust me, I would be ecstatic if we could get any NASCAR race at Eldora," Stewart said. "That would be great. I have talked to NASCAR. They have been looking at all kinds of different tracks. It has been brought up in conversation, but that is about as far as it has come right now."
In fact, NASCAR is looking at a number of options for its 2013 Truck Series schedule.
"We've made several site visits over the past few months to look at possible future venues for our Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series," said NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp. "We expect the 2013 schedules for both of those series to be finished up and released within the next couple of weeks."