Drivers Get First Taste of New Track at UPIR
Over 50 cars and drivers came out to the Upper Peninsula International Raceway Sunday afternoon for an open practice session in anticipation of next weekend’s opening night.
As we reported last week, the UPIR track has undergone several changes since last year’s season ended. The general consensus among several of the track’s drivers was that the track would be faster and allow for better racing than in years past thanks to more banking and a wider racing surface. The combination of these two factors should encourage the drivers in several divisions to race in different lanes while remaining competitive.
Drivers took turns lapping the newly configured track throughout the course of the three hour session, running in pairs for five laps each. At points, the line to get on track stretched all the way from turn four to the back straightaway.
Once drivers had gotten a run or two under their belts, the effects of track changes were seen. Instead of hugging the inside of the corners, as was the norm in past years, drivers found themselves running a minimum of a car width off of the edge of the infield. Some even ventured up close to the new outside retaining wall.
While the majority of practice runs were clean, a few drivers did find the limitations of the faster track. 600 Micro Sprint veteran, Kyle Getchell, spun his car in turn three during his first run of the afternoon. He quickly got the car turned the right direction and would complete the rest of the afternoon with no incident. By the end of the session, he was one of the fastest drivers. Another driver who had a few issues was Matt Maki, who makes the move up to the Modified division this year. Maki spun several times in the session, learning the characteristics of his new ride. Like Getchell, Maki improved throughout the session and finished the afternoon with several clean runs.
Next week’s season opener gets underway Saturday evening at 6 p.m. EST with gates opening at 5 p.m. EST. With the action seen in practice today, fans are in for a treat come Saturday night.
By Todd Rose