Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

NASCAR says Goodyear has got it right for this year's Brickyard 400

Goodyear's Greg Stucker: the man on the hot seat, as boss of tire engineers, says Goodyear has the right Indy tire for the 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Indianapolis' Brickyard 400 is one of the biggest, most prestigious NASCAR races of the season. And after last summer's fiasco, where tires wore out after just 25 miles, there has been considerable pressure on NASCAR officials and Goodyear engineers to come up with better tires for this July's event.
   Goodyear's Greg Stucker and nine NASCAR drivers wrapped up another two-day tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and they said they were pleased with the results and predict July's Brickyard 400 will be much more successful than last summer's tire-issue plagued event when teams were forced to pit every 10 laps for new tires.
     "We're very positive about our recommendation for this year," Stucker said Tuesday.
   "When we left Indianapolis last year, after last year's race, there was one thing we were very clear about, and that was that we were going to get it right.
    "I want everybody to be just as clear today that we're very confident that we have done exactly that. 
    "It's been a very deliberate process over the last 11 months.  A lot has taken place. 
    "It's involved not only the Goodyear racing division but really the whole corporation.  A lot of people have been involved doing a lot of different things in order to make sure we have a good recommendation for this year's race."
    The Goodyear test before last summer's 400 was perhaps rather lackadaisical – teams were wearing out tires in seven to 10 laps, and that was well known to Goodyear engineers and teams. But there was optimism that the track itself would rubber in, with numerous practice laps during the race weekend, and that then the tire wear would improve.
   However it didn't happen.
   Tires during the weekend leading up to the 400 wore excessively, despite all the practice laps.
   By that Saturday afternoon teams were very worried, and so was NASCAR.
   The decision was made to throw the caution every 10 laps to let teams pit for new tires. That was an unprecedented event. And fans did not take it very well at all.
   In fact there are serious questions about how many fans may actually show up for this year's 400, even though it's one of the tour's top events.
   Drivers have been questioning the tires through the testing series, which began last fall. Tire wear is the issue – the Indianapolis track is grooved with tiny ridges similar to highway grooves cut to channel water off the road. The Indy track was grooved to provide better grip; but NASCAR stockers have such little downforce in the corners and considerable right-side weight that the track surface is essentially a cheese-grater.
  Even getting a decent test at the track has been difficult because to lay down enough rubber for a good test requires a large number of cars.
   So Goodyear and NASCAR have had many teams testing.
    "We've tested seven times," Stucker said. "People have asked why have they gone back seven times: It's a process, we built upon every test, we learned at every test.
    "Certainly we fought a little weather (Tuesday too).  But we wanted to make sure that we got it right, and make sure that we left no stone unturned.
    "We accumulated over 13,000 miles (of testing); Jeff Gordon and 30 other guys have been involved in that testing. So certainly it's taken a lot of commitment on NASCAR's part, on the teams' part, on the drivers' part, and we certainly appreciate that.
    "But there's been a lot going on back in Akron -- a lot of our research people working on a lot of difference processes. 
     "We've developed ways to measure tread wear and wear debris that's generated from the tires very differently from the way we did it before. 
    "We've developed ways to actually measure the track surface. We have equipment that measures the racetrack at the very microscopic level, so we understand exactly what happens and maybe what doesn't happen when we rubber in and don't rubber in the racetrack.
    "We've even gone so far as to grind our test track in Akron with exactly the same surface that Indianapolis has. We hired the same company with the same equipment to come and grind a couple of sections of that test track so that we have the ability to do some testing in Akron when we don't come to the racetrack.
    "I want everybody to understand it's been a lot of effort, a lot of time, and a lot of commitment on a lot of people's part to make sure we do it right….to make sure we've covered all of our bases. And we're very, very confident that we've done that."
   One worry is that rain may wash out the rubber from the grooves after teams practice for two days and rubber in the track.
   But Stucker says "Even with all the rain last week (which tends to wash clean the track), a lot of that rubber (still on the track for this week's test) was laid down two weeks ago.
    "We are very confident that we won't have the same issues that we had last year.
    "In addition, I think we've given the guys a very raceable setup. There's a lot of grip. 
    "One of the options was just to go so hard (on the compound) that you couldn't wear the tire out. But I think we owe it to these guys to make sure we've got something that's very raceable, to put on a good show. 
    "I want everybody to know we're very confident we've done that. And we're looking very forward to the race in about a month and a half."

Jeff Gordon (L) seems to think Goodyear's got a good tire for the Brickyard 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com