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Published: Thursday, 4/5/2012

Drivers give thumbs up to repaved MIS


BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Jeff Gordon considers himself a critic of track repaves. The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is picky about the nuances of each track but after two days of Goodyear tire testing at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon gave the new surface a vote of confidence.

"The fact I'm talking positive and still enjoying this race track as much as I always have, that's a sign of where I rank it," Gordon said. "I rank it very high. There wasn't a lot of need to change here."

Gordon joined Brad Keselowski, Juan Pablo Montoya, and 2012 Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth for testing on the track, which was repaved for the fourth time in October. On the second day of testing, the four drivers reached speeds of up to 215 miles per hour on the MIS straightaway.

"Having a second day, especially after it's been ran and gotten some rubber put in the pores of the track, and the track's been cleaned off a little bit, all those things add up to more speed," Keselowski said. "It was a lot faster."

MIS president Roger Curtis described the track as being grimy and sandy at the start of testing but after a handful of practice laps, speeds began to increase. Curtis also noted that after the repaving, a few bumps remained on the front stretch of the two-mile oval, and that seams on the track had been changed.

"It seems like the bottom groove has a little less banking to it," Montoya said. "But I never run the bottoms. I've never even tried it. I've put the lefts [left tires] on it, but that's as slow as it's been."

MIS will host two Sprint Cup events this season: the Michigan 400 on June 17 and the Pure Michigan 400 on Aug. 19. The two days on the track gave drivers and their crews and opportunity to do in-depth testing on their cars.

"On normal weekends when we practice, we can't put any kind of telemetry on the car," Kenseth said, referring to the remote data-collection process on stock cars. "The only thing we can get with fuel injection is some data, like throttle and brake traces and some engine data. But when we come here to test, we can put whatever instrumentation we want on the car. There's a ton of things we look at. We'll sift through it all before we come back."

While MIS is technically Keselowski's home track -- Brooklyn is less than 100 miles southwest of his hometown of Rochester Hills -- he didn't determine a final verdict on the new surface at Michigan International Speedway.

"When you make a repave, you have a lot of questions. Is it going to be better, is it going to be worse?" Keselowski said. "Time will tell."

NOTES: After Tuesday's testing at MIS, Montoya tweeted about the wet track conditions: "it's pouring here in Michigan and we need a jet dryer. I know they used to have one but somebody blew it up," he wrote. Montoya's tweet made light of the Daytona 500 incident in February in which his car crashed into a jet dryer driven by Duane Barnes, an MIS employee. "I talked to him after the incident," Montoya said Wednesday. "If you look back at the accident, I'm actually surprised that I'm here. I'm surprised he's here. We move on and you hope things like that don't happen. It's just a freak accident."

Welding Night at Owens

Owens Community College's School of Technology, the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the American Welding Society and Lincoln Electric Motorsports invite area racing car and truck enthusiasts to the Owens campus from 6-9 p.m. Thursday to view an array of competition vehicles and learn more about careers within the welding and automotive industry at the sixteenth annual Lincoln Motorsports Welding Night.

Admission is free.

Representatives from local businesses including Toledo Speedway, Norwalk Raceway Park, and Attica Raceway Park will be in attendance to offer information.

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