As NASCAR nears the second round of the Cup Series playoffs and another application of PJ1 TrackBite to improve the racing product at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, most of the industry has already moved on from another experiment tried earlier this season.
Remember when Goodyear offered a softer option tire at the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway?
The set was supposed to produce lap times up to three-tenths to half a second faster than its standard counterpart. The concept worked during practice but largely failed under cooler nighttime conditions and the shorter green-flag runs of the All-Star Race.
Quite frankly, the race was a bore.
Autoweek spent time with Goodyear director of race tire sales Greg Stucker over the weekend at Chicagoland Speedway to better understand what exactly went wrong and if the concept still has a future in NASCAR.
“We had hoped to make something that provided a .3- to .5-second advantage in lap times,” Stucker said. “And if you look at practice times, when guys ran the option, that’s exactly where we were.
“But teams practiced in the daytime. When you have a race at night, especially at Charlotte at a place with that kind of ambience, the difference closed up. I won’t say it closed significantly, but it closed up enough so it wouldn’t make a difference between the two.”
The idea was fascinating when it was first announced because NASCAR has tightened up the rule book to such a degree that it doesn’t leave teams many avenues to legally find speed, thus the rash of penalties this season. The hope was that teams would utilize their one option set at different points of the race and create comers-and-goers with the differing strategies.
But the difference in speed at night was so marginal that it really didn’t make much of a difference.
As a result, NASCAR has shelved the idea of using multiple tire compounds in a single race for the time being.
But when was the last time something was attempted and perfected on the first attempt?
“I think we hit it where we were supposed to but the night race changed the dynamic a little bit,” Stucker said. “If we decided to do it again, we just have to make sure we understand what the parameters are — what the targets are.
“I think we all learned from it directionally. I think we decided, NASCAR decided, it was a data point. We understand how it works, so let’s not go down that point yet. I’m not saying that it’s off the table because we’re game to discuss it in the future. There are just a lot of things that have to be looked at logistically, like how many sets teams get and how do you use them during a regular season race.”