BROOKLYN, Mich. – ARCA Racing Series newcommer Brennan Newberry and three-time race winner Alex Bowman led Tuesday’s open testing speed charts at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Fifteen drivers posted lap times better than Cale Gale’s ARCA qualifying record at the track from one year ago.
ARCA held the annual test to allow teams to prepare for the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 at Michigan, scheduled for June 15. The race will be ARCA’s 31st at the track since 1980 and first since the track was repaved.
Newberry, driving the No. 92 Chevrolet for NTS Motorsports, posted an early afternoon lap of 37.083 seconds (194.159 mph), edging Bowman and the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge by 0.009 second for the day’s best time.
Until Tuesday, Newberry had never driven an ARCA car or seen Michigan’s two-mile oval. The 22-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif., has made 10 career starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series since 2010, and four in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year.
“Obviously, the track is very smooth and fast,” Newberry said. “I’ve never been in an ARCA car before and never saw the track until today, so it was very rewarding to run so well here. I’m really not too surprised by our lap times today. The car felt so good right off the trailer. We had to make adjustments on it, but nothing drastic.
“We plan to come back and race and I think we’ll be just as strong. My job will be to drive my tail off it, get everyone excited on this family-owned team, and see where it leads us. Hopefully, we’ll get to run a few more.”
Bowman had led the three-hour morning session at 191.266 mph, creating a buzz that more drivers would surpass Gale’s qualifying mark of 189.623 mph over the five-hour afternoon period.
Drivers and teams delivered after the mid-day break, as five topped 193 mph and four others drove above 192 mph. In all, 15 drivers turned laps in over 190 mph and beat Gale’s time – which continues to stand as the official ARCA lap record at Michigan.
Bowman suffered from a flat right-front tire after his fast lap and hit the turn four wall, one of two incidents in that area. He did not sustain any injuries in the crash, and learned something about car care in the process.
“We had a tire go down; it happens,” said Bowman, who has won two Menards Pole Awards in 2012. “We’ll be really good when we come back. I do think we’ll need to keep an eye on the right front tire wear at these speeds. It’s just something I think we’re going to have to look out for.”
Below Newberry and Bowman were the following drivers, in order from third to 15th: Joey Coulter, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed, Chris Buescher, Jared Marks, Kyle Larson, Matt Lofton, John Blankenship, Aleks Gregory, Brandon Miller, Dylan Kwasniewski, Clay Rogers, and Kevin Swindell.