First Cup cars on track signal racing is around corner.
BROOKLYN, Mich.-- Spring officially has arrived at Michigan International Speedway, as the sounds of engines signaled the beginning of testing season at the historic 2-mile oval.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chad Little took the first turns around MIS' high banks Tuesday, the first of a two-day test session for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
The only way for motorsports fans to see Earnhardt Jr., Little and other top-name NASCAR drivers at MIS is to call the MIS ticket hotline at (800) 354-1010 or visit www.MISpeedway.com to reserve seats or fan hospitality packages with all the amenities.
For Little, who plans to make a handful of Cup starts for owner Andy Petree, the test session allowed him to gauge his equipment against that of a former NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division champion and a five-time winner in the Cup series.
"I'm glad Dale Jr.'s testing, too, because that's someone we figure is going to be fast," Little said."We can gauge our times off him and see whether we'd be good enough to make the show and also whether we'd be able to leave (the race) knowing we did a respectful job."
By mid-afternoon of the first day of the test, Little was running in the 40.2- to 40.3-second range, which would put him at about 179 mph. Earnhardt Jr. was posting laps of about 39.9 or 40.0, which translates to around 180 mph.
"We're running mostly 40-flats," said Earnhardt's crew chief Tony Eury, whose driver owns the Winston Cup qualifying record at MIS at 191.149 mph set in August 2000."But we're just getting started."
Little said he plans to run in a few Winston Cup events this season, including the Michigan 400 on Sunday, June 16, and the Pepsi 400 presented by Farmer Jack on August 18. He also is eyeing a Cup start at MIS' sister track, California Speedway, on April 28.
"This will be good preparation for (California)," said Little, who has 22 career starts at MIS in both Cup and Busch."Our plans are to run both Michigan races, and with us not running for points, if everything doesn't shake out in order to run a race, we can always postpone it for the next event. But we obviously don't want to do that."