LOUDON, N.H. -- Goodyear officials leaned on their dirt track experience to come up with a tire to be used when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Eldora Raceway July 23-24.
The CarCash Mudsummer Classic will mark the first time one of NASCAR's top series has competed on dirt since 1970.
"I guess the biggest challenge was that it was kind of an unknown," Goodyear's Greg Stucker said July 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"Knowing what the vehicle was, knowing the surface, we said, 'OK, what do we have in our lineup that's a good starting spot?'"
Stucker, director of race tire sales, said the answer was found in a dirt Modified tire produced by the company.
That particular tire, which measures 10 inches wide by 27.5 inches tall, "is just real close to what we run on the trucks at a short track like a Martinsville or somewhere similar," he said.
The tire was initially tested at Eldora last October with Richard Childress Racing teams and track owner and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart participating.
"Really, it was pretty darn close," Stucker said. "We felt the compound was right there, right where we wanted.
"The only thing we came out of that test with was we felt we needed to make the tire a little bit wider; that it would be better ? if we had a little wider package."
As a result, the company went back and developed an 11-inch model of the tire, then returned to the race track (in this case 311 Motor Speedway in Pine Hall, N.C.) for verification. The width of the current asphalt tires used in the NCWTS is "about 11 1/2 inches," Stucker said.
Unlike tires used on paved tracks, heat is not an issue on dirt. "Actually ? you want to try to be able to make some heat," he said. "The biggest difference is we have a tread compound for this tire ? it's a known entity for us. I know that pattern works well. It was just a case of merging all the knowledge we had (to determine what was needed)."
The format for the program will be quite a bit different from a typical NASCAR event, with five eight-lap qualifying races and a last-chance race preceding the main event. Those changes won't impact the number of tires provided, however. Depending on the amount of on-track time scheduled, Truck series teams often have between four and six sets for a given event.
Kansas Speedway will also see new tires
? Goodyear officials will return to Kansas Speedway this week to test tire combinations in preparation for the Sprint Cup Series' return in October, and will also test later at Phoenix International Raceway.
Both tracks host races in NASCAR's Chase For The Sprint Cup.
Making a tire change between events for tracks annually hosting two Cup races isn't typical, Stucker said.
"We ? don't like to and the teams don't like us too," he said. "But we've got two instances here at Kansas and Phoenix, those will be in preparation for change the second time around.
"Everybody just felt like those surfaces had lost enough grip that we could help the situation out a little bit ? we've worked with NASCAR, got input from the teams; they're on board to go ahead and make a change for those two race tracks.
"Typically they don't like to particularly if it's a Chase race, because people have that (information) in their playbook, they know what to expect so we try not to throw them a curve ball."
A verification test is also scheduled for Atlanta Motor Speedway Aug. 6.
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