Written by SaJorden Miller
(Atlanta, GA) Many who have raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway will tell you that this is one of the most enjoyable tracks, but due to the abrasive surface of the 1.54-mile oval and long turns, this track really diminishes on the tires.
In an interview, Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s Director of Racing, was asked about what he thinks of a track that has been “aged to perfection” such as Atlanta Motor Speedway. He discussed the difficulty of finding a tire that strikes a balance between the speeds, and the long, sweeping turns as well as a significant amount of fall-off.
“The worn surface at Atlanta provides very competitive racing with multiple grooves developing over the course of the event. The challenge for us is finding the tire that strikes the right balance between the high speeds generated by the long, sweeping turns and the large amount of fall-off caused by the abrasive surface.”
Due to the high wear on the tires, the teams must be on high alert for tire management throughout the weekends at tracks like Atlanta. Some of the teams will just do a few practices in hopes to save their tires for race day.
For NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series they had a total of 16 tires for the event 4 sets for practice, 1 set for qualifying/start of the race and 11 sets for the race. Xfinity received 7 sets and Camping World Turck Series received 6 sets for the event. At tracks like these, pit stops can go along way in deciding the outcome of the race as race strategy plays out with the tires. Especially with the new pit rules (with one less crew member over the wall and the new pit gun given out by NASCAR this season).
When Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s Director of Racing, was asked about the test process which is used to determine what kind of tires are used on the tracks he responded with; “The first thing is to understand the requirements of the race track — the surface and the configuration — which tells us what kind of speeds and loads the tires will experience. Once you understand that, you then start to address the different components of the tire — the structure and the compound — to meet those requirements.”
The multi-zoned tread right-side tire which debuted in 2013 at Atlanta Motor Speedway came “home” for the 5th year. There are two distinct compounds across the same tread that the multi-zone tire features, the two-inch Endurance Zone being a tougher material which can withstand more heat and wear than the 10-inch outboard Traction Zone which offers more traction. In Atlanta last week all three NASCAR Series ran the same right-side tire code (D-4682) which is a multi-zoned tread tire with a two-inch inboard compound designed for heat resistance and a 10-inch outboard compound to give more grip. However the Cup and Xfinity Series will run 87.48 inches with a tire code of D-4680 left-side, the right side will be 88.39 inches with a tire code of D-4623.
This is the same left- and right-side tire combination that Cup and Xfinity Series have run in Atlanta since 2016. The Truck Series will run a left-side 87.40 with a tire pressure of D-4384 and a right side 88.39 inches with a tire pressure of D-4682. Just like all of NASCAR ovals that are greater than one mile in length teams are required to run liners for all four tire positions at Atlanta, in those inner liners the air pressure should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.
So with the track eating the tires so much how does someone like Kevin Harvick 2018 Fold of Honor QuickTrip 500 champion stay in the lead for almost the entire race? In his post-race press conference, he was asked about his strategy for maintaining in the lead. “You know I think the biggest thing is just trying to take care of your car in the first 7 or 8 laps to really try not to abuse the tires. We did that a couple of time tonight, and it definitely affected the car, but we had the track position and clear track and could manage the aro side of things. Not being behind another car it really allowed us to save the tires and that just really piled up for us over the long run, because we could really dictate the pace and manage what we did from a tire standpoint. So first 7 or 8 laps really important as to what is going happen in lap 20, 30, and 40.”
In an interview, Greg Stucker Goodyear Director of Race Tire Sales talked about why Atlanta is one of the toughest tracks in the circuit on tires.
“Atlanta is unquestionably one of the toughest challenges we face from a tire standpoint. The first thing about Atlanta is the track surface, which is very abrasive. To go along with that, it is extremely fast with its long, sweeping turns. Bringing the multi-zone right-side to Atlanta is critical as the Traction Zone helps the cars grip that worn out surface, while the Endurance Zone adds heat resistance and some wear resistance to the inboard portion of the tread that takes the most abuse. The bottom line result of this is good, competitive racing. Tire management will come into play as some drivers will be faster earlier in the run, while others will conserve their tires and be faster later. That creates a lot of passing throughout the field.” Interview with moderntiredealer.com
After packing up in Atlanta and the teams headed to Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400. Las Vegas and Atlanta are two majorly different tracks for tire wear. Goodyear has the goal of introducing tire wear by its choice of tread compounds in Las Vegas. This track has not been repaved since 2006. In the course of a run it is a goal of Goodyear’s to have more tire fall-off over. Cup teams also had the NASCAR organizational test in January 2018 with the exact combination of tires that they will be using in the Pennzoil 400. Teams have a pretty good baseline of how the tires will run on the track.
Greg Stucker discussed why it is a goal of Goodyear and NASCAR to have Las Vegas a tire fall-off over the track. “That was a goal as we worked with NASCAR and the teams to develop the lower downforce package that we’re currently racing. Starting with 2015, NASCAR transitioned to a rules package with significantly lower downforce, so Goodyear was asked to develop tire packages to match up with those rules. With that, we’ve also addressed driver input to introduce move fall-off over the course of a fuel run, which they think is key to improving the overall competition.”
This weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series teams are running a different set than those in the Camping World Truck Series. The same left-side tires that ran last year by the Cup and Xfinity teams are running again. The right-side tire is a multi-zone tread tire, featuring a two-inch inboard compound for heat resistance (Endurance Zone) and a 10-inch outboard compound for enhanced grip (Traction Zone). For the Cup teams, this was the exact combination that they ran in the NASCAR organizational test in January 2018. Just like in Atlanta, all teams at Las Vegas are required to run liners in all four tire positions; air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.
Greg Stucker confirmed that the following tracks will in fact run the Multi-Zone Tread tire in the 2018 season.
“Atlanta, Auto Club, Chicagoland, Homestead-Miami, Kansas, Las Vegas, Michigan in 2018.”
In Las Vegas, the Monster Energy Cup Series and Xfinity Series are running left-side tire codes of D-4724 with a tire circumference of 87.48 inches and right of D-4776 with a circumference of 88.70 inches. Cup has a total of 13 tires for the weekend four sets for practice, 1 1 set for qualifying/start of the race and eight sets for the race. Xfinity has 7 for the entire event.
For Camping World Truck Series they have a total of 6 sets of tires for the event with left-side tire codes of D-4670 and a tire circumference of 87.56 inches. The right side will have a tire code of D-4726 with a tire circumference of 88.66 inches.
We can expect alot less wear on the tires in all three NASCAR series in Las Vegas this weekend. There should be some great racing!