NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Several top 200 mph in Michigan testing

Several top 200 mph in Michigan testing

It wasn’t a matter of if, just a matter of when during NASCAR Sprint Cup testing at Michigan International Speedway Thursday. The repaved two-mile track was fast as expected with nine drivers exceeding the 200 mph mark over the two sessions held Thursday. Additionally, 39 drivers in the morning session and all 42 in the afternoon had surpassed the track record of 194.232 mph set by Ryan Newman in June, 2005.

Mark Martin led the morning session with a top speed of 201.089 and was one of only four drivers to eclipse the 200 mph mark. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were the other three to top 200. However, the afternoon brought with it more speed. Tony Stewart led the afternoon session with a 201.896 mph lap. He, Greg Biffle (201.557 mph) and Kurt Busch (201.173 mph) were the only three to top the 201 mark in the afternoon, though seven drivers eclipsed 200. Harvick and Earnhardt, Jr., who topped 200 in the morning session, were among the top 7 in he afternoon along with Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

“Man, this place is really, really fast,” said Biffle, the only Ford driver to top 200 mph on the day, after the morning session. “I never would have thought we would be running 35.80 (seconds). Every lap is like a qualifying lap and you are holding your breath. You make about three (laps) and come in and think about it for a while.”

“The one thing that I have liked and seen so far is that the track is pretty wide,” Biffle continued. “The groove is all the way up in the middle of the second groove and that is certainly going to help racing around here at those speeds because it gives some options.”

One question that may be more on the driver’s minds than the fans’ is whether the 200-mph plus speeds are too fast for the Sprint Cup cars at Michigan.

“I think we are approaching some safety concerns at the speeds we are going,” Biffle said. “I don’t know that we are quite there yet though. The thing you worry about is if a piece breaks on the car, an engine breaks at an inopportune time coming off the corner or getting in the corner.”

“We’re just a little bit faster than we were 15 years ago at Atlanta,” Pemberton said. “Time will take care of all of it. We’re not concerned right now. We’re confident in it.”

NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton wasn’t all that worried about the speeds, and at this time, there are no plans to put restrictor plates on the cars, something drivers and fans alike speculated might happen in the days leading up to Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.

“We’re just a little bit faster than we were 15 years ago at Atlanta,” Pemberton said. “Time will take care of all of it. We’re not concerned right now. We’re confident in it.”

_For full practice speeds, click here (https://frontstretch.com/files/Sprint%20Cup%20Practice%201%20Thursday%20Michigan.pdf) for the morning session and here (https://frontstretch.com/files/Sprint%20Cup%20Practice%202%20Thursday%20Michigan.pdf) for the afternoon session._

Biffle’s Car to wear the red, white and blue at Michigan

As part of the “NASCAR Unites – An American Salute” program, Greg Biffle’s No. 16 car will be wearing some different colors this weekend. Biffle’s Roush-Fenway Ford will be adorned in red, white and blue for the Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The NASCAR initiative to show support for American military members and their families started at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and will continue through the Fourth of July weekend at Daytona.

““We are always proud to show our support for the men and women of our military and I am honored to drive the red, white and blue 3M Ford this weekend in Michigan,” said Biffle. “The NASCAR Unites program this summer is a great reminder to all of us to thank the members of the armed forces whether it’s in person, with a post card or through a donation. I hope everyone checks out the website and looks for our special paint scheme this weekend.”

Biffle sits third in the points standings heading into Michigan. He had been the points leader much of the season but fell to third after a 24th-place run at Pocono last week because of engine issues. For more information about the NASCAR Unites program go to nascar.com/unites.

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