BROOKLYN, Mich. – Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, was one of four drivers who took the first laps on Michigan International Speedway’s newly repaved surface during a Goodyear Tire test on Tuesday.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers participating in the two-day test include Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya. Testing wraps up at 5 p.m. local time today, and fans can watch the action for free from the Turn 1 grandstands
The drivers reportedly reached speeds of 215 mph, enough to break the 194.232 mph track qualifying record set by Ryan Newman in 2005.
“When a track gets resurfaced, our goal is to conduct a test as soon as the asphalt curing process and weather allows,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tires. “Michigan was finished just before last winter set in and Pocono (Pa.) (Raceway) will be completed within the next couple of weeks. Because both of those tracks will have brand new asphalt, it’s a sure bet we’ll return with a tire setup that’s different from what has been run recently at those tracks.”
Built in 1968, the track has been repaved four times (1977, 1986, 1995 and 2011).During the latest project, 22,000 tons of asphalt were placed on the surface—enough to construct about 5.5 miles of a two-lane county road.
The track was paved in two layers with each layer 1.5 inches thick for a total of three inches. Therefore, the track is now approximately 2.25 inches higher than it was previously.
The two-day test isn’t necessarily about finding out how fast the NASCAR stock cars can go on the new surface, but rather collecting data the tire company can use to build a good race tire for the track’s NASCAR events.
Gordon, who has two wins, 18 top-five finishes, 24 top-10s and five pole positions at Michigan, said there’s a chance to gain a competitive advantage when testing at a newly paved racetrack.
“I think it has some advantages, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “We gather the data any time we can go to any track. Whether it is a repave or not, we are gathering data. But when it is a repave, it is smooth and you get to understand the loads, the grip levels and what the track kind of needs.
“I love Michigan,” added Gordon, who reached Hendrick Motorsports’ 100th Cup victory at the two-mile oval in June 2001. “We want to play our role and help Goodyear develop the best tire for that track. If we can gather some data that is beneficial to us, then we certainly are going to try to take advantage of that as well.”