Greg Biffle (Photo : Reuters)
The newly resurfaced race track at Michigan International Speedway has raised issues of safety among NASCAR drivers.
After reaching speeds of 218 mph during a morning practice session, veteran Greg Biffle voiced his fears.
"We're approaching some safety concerns at the speeds we are going," he told reporters. "We've got to walk that fine line of killing people and creating excitement."
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The comments from the Greg Biffle may not be shared by the rest of the drivers, but going by the opinions of the track officials, they seem to be fine with the track and have no intention to install any restrictor plates which have been used in Daytona and Talladega tracks to reduce speeds.
Robin, Pemberton, Vice President of Michigan International Speedway, doesn't share Biffle's concerns. Pemberton believes the race track is designed and resurfaced in such a modern way that the race cars will slow on their own as the track rubbers are placed on the track and when the temperature rises.
"It was nice to see the speed this morning," he told reporters. "Maybe qualifying will get back to there - maybe. But for the most part it will continue to slow down."
Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each reached 200 mph in the very first lap during their morning sessions. Martin was topped at 201.089 mph in race trim.
"Two hundred and one at Bristol might get us a little excited," quipped John Darby, Series Director for NASCAR.
According to ESPN, Thirty-nine of the 41 drivers participating had a top lap better than the track qualifying record of 194.232 mph by Ryan Newman in 2005. Seven drivers topped 200 mph in the afternoon session, led by Tony Stewart at 201.896 mph in qualifying trim. Others were: Biffle (201.556), Kurt Busch (201.174), Harvick (200.697), Earnhardt Jr. (200.658), Paul Menard (200.111) and Clint Bowyer (200.078).
Biffle had the eighth fastest time in the morning session with a first lap of 199.253 in race trim. All the speed, according to Biffle, doesn't guarantee a quality race.
"You look at the places we go the absolute fastest and sometimes those are the best races to watch," Biffle said to reporters. "Sometimes the tracks that are a little bit slower put on a little better side-by-side action and more bumping and grinding.
"I can promise you that you aren't going to bump somebody at 218. ... Just because we are going fast, that doesn't mean it is going to be a great race."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup race kicks off this weekend.