Clint Bowyer hits ‘white-of-your-eyes-fast’ speed of 217 mph in tire test at Michigan

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There’s fast, and then there’s Michigan International Speedway fast … uh, err, make that F-A-S-T!

In the final day of a two-day Goodyear tire test at MIS, Clint Bowyer’s Toyota Camry hit an eye-popping 217 mph Wednesday.

“That’s white-of-your-eyes-fast,” Bowyer said.

Bowyer was part of a quintet of drivers that took part in the test at the two-mile facility in south-central Michigan. The others were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne.

According to a media release issued by the track, Earnhardt consistently hit speeds of 212 to 215 mph on the straightaways on the racing surface, which was resurfaced in 2012, making it the fastest non-restrictor plate track in the sport.

“This is one of our better tracks, and our fans will probably say the same,” said Earnhardt, who has two wins, two other top-five and a top-10 at MIS in the last six seasons. “Having the success here over the last four or five years has given us a lot of confidence when we come here, and I think that’s why Goodyear brings us to test.

“I enjoy racing here. It’s a fun track. The asphalt is really aging well and it’s just going to keep getting better and better over the next couple of years.”

Joey Logano holds the official speed record at MIS at 203.949 mph, set during qualifying there last August.

During a tire test at MIS last May, Kurt Busch and Bayne both topped 211 mph.

The Sprint Cup Series returns to MIS for the Quicken Loans 400 weekend on June 13-15.

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IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.