Brad Keselowski, a Michigan native, said that the new surface at Michigan International Speedway could produce record speeds this weekend. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Keselowski up for challenge

Published 4:30pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Michigan native Brad Keselowski is hoping a tire test at Michigan International Speedway back in April will give him a leg up on his competition this weekend.

Keselowski, of Rochester Hills, and the Sprint Cup Series hit the newly paved MIS oval for the Quicken Loans 400 Sunday.

Not only has the track surface been repaved, but NASCAR has shortened the side skirts on the cars, which according to Keselowski, will cut down on the affect aerodynamics plays on the cars.

“The effect of the side skirts should be minimal,” he said during the weekly NASCAR teleconference. “It’s certainly a change in the right direction as far as reducing the aero dependency of the cars, at a track like Michigan, where speeds will top out around 215 mph, maybe even 220 in the draft. The effect of aerodynamics is going to play a large part in our race.

“So anything we can do to reduce our dependency on them is going to just help us be able to race in a bigger pack and hopefully allow for more passing and all of those great things that bring a lot of action that we all enjoy to watch.”

This will be the second straight week that NASCAR has come to a track that has been resurfaced. Last week it was Pocono. So the focus has been on speed and whether or not the cars are going too fast now.

“You’re looking at a track, Pocono was a good example of it last week that picked up three seconds over the course of the weekend. That’s over 10 mph. So I think you’re going to see as a driver where it’s important to keep an open mind behind the steering wheel to where you continue to push the car harder as the track grips up and continue to push your limit.”

When asked if you can run too fast at MIS and is there a limit to the amount of speed drivers should be allowed to go, Keselowski didn’t hesitate.

“Well, to me, too fast is when we start flying in the grandstands,” he said. “Until then, it’s just a matter of how much pride you have and how much heart you have being a race car driver.”

Another variable will be the weather this weekend in Brooklyn. With the forecast calling for temperatures in the low 90s, one has to wonder how that will affect the racing surface.

“I think that you have to go back to the asphalt that’s been applied to these racetracks, and we have seen, the last half a dozen years, a few tracks be repaved: Charlotte, Darlington, Phoenix, now Michigan and Pocono,” Keselowski said. “Looking back at that, over the years, the pavement technology has changed drastically. So the aggregate that’s being laid down seems to be a lot smoother. The tracks are lasting a lot longer and have a lot more durability, and they seem to have a bit more resistance to temperature as far as performance is concerned.

“So it’s my thought that Michigan will be the same as far as being a little less weather-dependent on speeds. But I think we would all like to be a part of it and see it firsthand before we can promise or guarantee that.”

The Quicken Loans 400 is scheduled to begin shortly after 1 p.m. Coverage, on TNT, is set to begin at noon.

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