Brad Keselowski made history at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday. The Rochester Hills native took the first laps on the newly paved surface at the racetrack during a Goodyear Tire test.
“I feel the decision to pave in October, giving it some time to set was very beneficial,” Keselowski said. “The track should be ready to go in record time for a repave. It should be in great shape when we come back here for the race.”
Keselowski was the first car out at 1:23 p.m., shortly following a rain delay. He was joined at the test by fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Keselowski tweeted throughout the test, saying the track would reach top speeds on Day 2 of the test on Wednesday.
But that didn’t keep him from reaching 212, enough to break the 1984.232 mph track qualifying record set by Ryan Newman in 2005.
“We got going pretty good. We got over 210 (mph),” Keselowski said.
Gordon topped off at nearly 215 mph, he said.
But a Goodyear Tire test isn’t necessarily about how fast the NASCAR stock cars can go, but rather collecting data the tire company can use to build a good race tire for the track’s NASCAR events.
Gordon, who has always liked racing at Michigan International Speedway and considers the racetrack one of his favorites, 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,” he said. “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.”
This is the fourth time the racetrack has been repaved. The track was built in 1968, and repaved in 1977, 1986 and 1995.
During the latest project, 22,000 tons of asphalt was placed on the surface, enough to construct about 5 ½ miles of a two-lane county road.
Milling of the race track began last August and took approximately three weeks to complete. Three-quarters of an inch of asphalt was taken off the top during the milling process.
The project required three inches of total pavement laid down.
The track was paved in two layers with each layer 1 ½ inches thick for a total of three inches. Therefore, the track is now approximately 2 ¼ inches higher than it was previously.
The two-day test concludes 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Turn 1 grandstands will be open for fans free of charge throughout the day. Fans may park in Lot 10, off US 12.