April 9, 2014 — staff report — photo courtesy Michigan International Speedway — BROOKLYN, MI — Had Kevin Harvick been at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, he would have probably said something along the lines of:
“That’s freaky fast!”
Sheer speed was the tagline for every one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who took part in the two-day tire test.
Clint Bowyer said at the end of the day that he went 217 mph during the morning session.
“That’s white-of-your-eyes-fast,” the driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota remarked about the lap.
Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne were the drivers who participated in Wednesday’s action at the two-mile speedway.
Earnhardt Jr. said he was hitting speeds between 212 to 215 mph in the straightaways and still rolling about 180 in the turns. But even though speed was the topic of the day, the drivers were on track to test tires for Goodyear.
“This is one of our better tracks, and our fans will probably say the same,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Having the success here over the last four or five years has given us a lot of confidence when we come here, and I think that’s why Goodyear brings us to test.
“I enjoy racing here. It’s a fun track. The asphalt is really aging well and it’s just going to keep getting better and better over the next couple of years.”
Newman and Biffle agreed, adding the winter has aged the track, making the super-smooth surface less oily, and creating additional grooves.
“I think (Michigan) will be a good race; I really do,” Biffle said.
Though speeds on a racetrack are sexy, speedway President Roger Curtis said passing and fierce competition is what makes great racing.
“The drivers are posting 200 mph. That’s awesome. The fans get very, very excited about that. But at the end of the day, on Sunday when the green flag drops, the numbers ‘two zero zero’ they’re not anywhere in the fans’ minds. It’s lead changes, it’s the competition.”
The track was repaved in 2012, making for blazing fast speeds. Since then, the asphalt has aged but NASCAR has made significant changes to the cars, thus keeping speeds very fast.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway this summer for two weekends: Quicken Loans 400 weekend, June 13-15 and Pure Michigan 400 weekend, Aug. 15-17.