BROOKLYN, Mich. – Jeff Gordon, admittedly skeptical of the recent repave at Michigan International Speedway, wrapped up the two-day Goodyear Tire test at the two-mile oval still in high spirits.
“I am not a big fan of repaves so the fact that I am talking positive about it and still enjoying the racetrack as much as I always have I think that is a sign where I rank it,” Gordon said on Wednesday. “I rank it very high.”
The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet joined fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Juan Pablo Montoya for the two-day test.
Recently, Michigan completed its fourth repave. The track was built in 1968, and repaved in 1977, 1986, 1995 and 2011.
“Whatever it is about this track, it has just always had a great feel to it,” said Gordon, who has two wins, five pole positions, 18 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s at Michigan. “Instead of having to go in and recreate some of that like some track have had to do, they were basically able to pave over the top of what they had, fix whatever they could to keep it lasting as long as possible, which you would typically do on a repave. The track drives so similar to the way it did before and it is going to have multiple grooves.”
Official speeds were not available. But participating drivers said and tweeted they unofficially topped speeds of about 215 mph.
“I’m not sure I want to know I’m going that fast,” Gordon joked.
Getting a feel for the new track surface and its speed is important for drivers, but the purpose of this week’s test was to collect data to help Goodyear build a solid tire for the track’s NASCAR events.
“As with all repaves, Michigan and Pocono (Pa.) (Raceway) will have smoother surfaces, thus giving the cars more grip, which leads to more heat buildup in the tire,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tires. “That’s why tire testing is so important—we need to get on the new surface and find the right balance between controlling heat (and) providing an adequate grip level.”
The Sprint Cup Series will race at Michigan on June 17. For more information or for tickets, visit http://www.MISpeedway.com or call 800-354-1010.