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Friday, June 15, 2012

Kevin Harvick, others say tire 'blistering' could be a concern this weekend at Michigan Speedway

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Some drivers, including Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick, are mentioning “blistering” issues on tires at Michigan; that could make for an interesting race and interesting pit strategy Sunday.

Harvick said its not just related to the repave, because nothing blistered last week at Pocono.

“We didn’t blister any tires last week. You never know when you get to a new track how fast you’ll run. That’s the hardest thing for Goodyear,” Harvick said. “It’s probably good it popped up yesterday and that’s the benefit of coming a day early.”

Still, he wasn’t too concerned with the possibility of tires causing problems Sunday. He said teams should know where they are at by the end of the day Friday regarding the tires.

If there are concerns and tires do end up blowing, that could be very dangerous at 200+ mph lap times. Stay tuned for more on this.

No concern about high speeds

Drivers were pretty unanimous at not being concerned about the higher speeds at Michigan Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson was among them:
“I don’t have any concerns about the speeds,” he said. “Granted I haven’t seen one hit the wall yet to see how the car reacts with the safer barrier at this pace. I knew that I was going fast more due to the fact of my on power points and how far I was driving into the corner on the throttle. Once you get over that 210 (mph) mark it’s tough to really feel the sensation.”

Harvick said he doesn’t even look at the speeds; just whether his lap times are fast and competitive.

Greg Biffle was a bit more concerned.

“I think we are approaching some safety concerns at the speeds we are going. I don’t know that we are quite there yet though. The thing you worry about is if a piece breaks on the car, an engine breaks at an inopportune time coming off the corner or getting in the corner. If a spindle breaks or component because we are going faster than we have ever gone before and we are probably loading these cars more than we ever have so we are certainly testing the components of the car. The mounts and sway bar hind joints to make sure they are strong enough. We are certainly pushing the envelope and with the extra speed, the wall still isn’t going to move when you get there. It can be somewhat of a concern if the track continues to pick speed up.”

He said it’s hard to determine how fast is too fast.
“That is hard to say. Guys have gotten hurt at Richmond before. It is not necessarily the sheer speed of what causes a bad accident or what not. Certainly the higher it gets the easier that the intersection line can be.”

Brad Keselowski should make Chase via top 10, not Wild Card – so who gets the wild cards?

Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski is home this weekend at Michigan Speedway; and he is in a good position in the points.
With two wins under his belt, he could easily make the Chase as a wild card, but as of right now he doesn’t have to.
He is 10th in points – leaving others to battle for the wild card.

Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano each have a win and are battling for those two spots.

Guys like Carl Edwards are in the top 20 but have no wins, so they need to get to Victory Lane to compete for those wild cards.

I’m pretty confident Brad can hold on to the top 10 spot, but if he doesn’t he is sitting pretty with the two wins in terms of the Wild Card battle. And based on his strong run in last year’s Chase, you can’t count him out as a title contender.

A win Sunday at Michigan, his home track, would give him 3 wins and he would be a virtual lock for the Chase even if he falls off some.

Random notes:

-- Asked if he wants more testing, Kevin Harvick is blunt: says “hell no”; says it’s not fair to guys at the shop, requires a lot more work.

-- Saturday’s Michigan Speedway schedule is jam packed. 11:05 a.m. Nationwide qualifying, 1:10 p.m. Cup qualifying and then the Nationwide race starting at 3:45 p.m. All the practice for all series is confined to today (Friday).

-- Danica Patrick did quite well in her first practice, running the second fastest lap. We’ll see if that holds up in qualifying and the actual race.

-- Top 2 Nationwide drivers in terms of best 10 consecutive lap average – Jamie Dick and Johanna Long.
It would be nice if some unknown drivers could do well Saturday, but I don’t think that will hold up.

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