Race car drivers are supposed to like to go fast. In most instances, the faster, the better.
But NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex Jr. isn’t of that mindset – at least when it comes to Michigan International Speedway.
He’s hoping that NASCAR’s fastest non-restrictor plate oval starts to wear down and ultimately slow down in the process.
“I am not sure about Michigan,” Truex said in a team media release. “Since the track was repaved (prior to the 2012 season) it changed the style of racing there. The track is just too fast right now.”
Indeed, in the first Cup event after the repaving, Marcos Ambrose didn’t just break the former track record (194.232 mph by Ryan Newman in 2005), he shattered it by more than 9 mph (203.241 mph) during qualifying in June 2012.
Ambrose’s mark at the two-mile oval stood for a little over a year until Joey Logano eclipsed it with a qualifying run last August of 203.949 mph.
At the same time, drivers are also coming close to 220 mph on the front and back straightaways.
“I am hoping the new pavement is wearing out a little to slow us down,” Truex said. “I enjoyed the old asphalt at Michigan where you could run all over the place.”
Truex’s hopes may come true. The area around MIS went through a brutal winter and it’s likely the track did experience some weathering that potentially will slow cars down there this weekend. To what extent they’ll slow down remains to be seen.
“But give credit to the track for making improvements with the repave,” Truex said. “We’re professionals and it’s our job to deal with the track conditions.”
Truex has struggled this season, his first with Furniture Row Racing after being forced out at Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of last season because there wasn’t enough sponsorship for 2014.
But despite some of the gloom he’s had to endure thus far this season, Truex is seeing some light: he has a pair of top-10 finishes in his last two starts (sixth at Dover and ninth at Pocono).
“I feel our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet will be good at Michigan due to our recent gain in speed,” Truex said. “We have some momentum right now and need to build on that. Things are much brighter with our Furniture Row team than they were earlier in the season.”
Truex has just two wins in his Sprint Cup career, but MIS has afforded him several opportunities to take another checkered flag. He had back-to-back runner-up finishes in spring and summer of 2007, and was third in this weekend’s race last season.
If and when he earns his third Cup win, Truex wouldn’t mind if it was at MIS.
“We had top-10 cars all year but we were not able to finish races,” Truex said. “The last two weeks we finished the races and got some decent results. We’re gaining but still have a ways to get to where we want to be.
“We still need to get that victory to make the Chase. And the progress we’ve made lately gives us more optimism to nail down that win.”
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