Are speeds too fast at Dover? Drivers offer their opinion

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Kyle Busch says he thinks the speeds are too fast at Dover International Speedway this weekend and cautions how that could impact Sunday’s race.

Cars have 750 horsepower and more downforce this weekend as part of the new package for this season. That’s led to eye-popping speeds.

Kurt Busch posted the fastest lap in Cup practice Friday at 168.445 mph. His lap was 4 mph faster than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set in June 2014 by Brad Keselowski. Twenty-three cars were faster than Keselowski’s track record Friday in practice. 

Kurt Busch’s lap Friday was 10 mph faster than Kyle Larson’s pole-winning lap of 158.103 mph for this event a year ago.

“There’s no question that you feel you’re going really fast,” Kyle Busch said. “It’s really fast. It’s probably too fast. The faster we tend to go in the middle of the corners doesn’t always produce the best racing.

“It’s going to be big numbers obviously in qualifying. but we’ll see how that transfers to the race. I’m not overly excited about it.”

Asked what is too fast, Busch said: “You pretty much know as a driver what too fast is. If you have a problem here now with the speeds we’re carrying through the corners, it’s going to hurt. It’s really going to hurt. The faster you go, the harder you’re going to hit the wall.

“Eventually there comes a point where it could be too fast for a stock car. Whether that it is or not, I guess that is for people other than myself to think. I’d much rather appreciate racing and being able to race at a more tolerable speed than what we’re going right now.”

He was then asked if the sport is approaching the danger zone and Busch said: “no question.”

Eleven-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson didn’t share all of Busch’s concerns.

“From a safety standpoint, I don’t have big concerns,” Johnson said. “The type of racing we’ll see on Sunday, I am nervous about that. The faster we go, the harder it is to pass, the wider the race track needs to be. The critical areas around this track are pretty narrow and there’s really one groove around the bottom in most years I’ve been here.

“The tall spoiler, the higher speeds, I think that’s going to make the cars very difficult to really pass the car in front of you. From that standpoint, I think track position is important and that’s where my concerns are.”

Talladega winner Chase Elliott didn’t raise as much concern about the speeds.

“You’re paid to go fast so let’s go fast, I guess,” he said. “It’s not fun hitting something real hard anytime you do. Certainly isn’t going to be when you do it at these speeds. It’s definitely physical for sure. I think this is going to be a very, very physical race on Sunday, especially if the sun comes out and it’s hot.

“It’s fast. Is it too fast? Like I said, this is our job. It’s what we signed up for.”

Martin Truex Jr. said drivers are on the throttle now more than they have ever been at this track.

“I can’t explain to you how fast it feels,” he said. “It’s pretty hairy out there. Pretty wild ride, a lot of fun, but you’ve got to really attack. We went faster every time we hit the race track without doing a whole lot to our car, just trying to figure out where the limit is because it’s something we just haven’t done here before like this.”

Truex also noted how the faster speeds could impact the racing.

“There’s no question it’s going to be harder to get close to someone as fast as we’re going,” he said. “It’s really fast. Obviously you don’t want to hit anything. It’s a race car, there’s always danger involved, I guess.”

Here is what some other drivers said:

Alex Bowman: “I think that we are paid to go fast. We are supposed to be the 40 best race car drivers and doing our jobs.  Part of our job is to go fast. I am not going to complain about going too fast by any means, but we are definitely pretty quick … “I don’t think there really is such a thing as too fast. But it’s really fast and it’s going to be hard to pass and super tough to race. But I am all for it.”

Ty Dillon: “I think it’s not a good speed, at least for a race. I think if it’s a different kind of series, maybe; but I think it’s gotten too fast. I think it’s going to be tough to put on a good race. But we’re all going to go out here and do the best we can. But, if something out of your control happens and you hit the wall at some of these speeds in qualifying, we’re getting into the danger of people are going to get hurt. And, I don’t think it’s a very smart thing.”