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Following a successful debut of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.'s multi-zone tread tire at Atlanta last month, the company will use the technology a second time this weekend for the race at Kansas Speedway.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will get a chance to test the new compound in advance of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 during a specially arranged tire test Thursday afternoon at the recently repaved 1.5-mile track.
Although NASCAR typically doesn't change tires from a track's spring date to its fall date, officials from both Goodyear and NASCAR felt confident the recent repave, the evolution of the Generation-6 car and the Atlanta success story made a strong case to use the technology again this week.
"Typically, our agreement or policy is we don't change the tire from the spring to the fall, but now with all the repaves we're having to deal with, we felt like working with Goodyear, we were way too conservative in the spring race," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. "By the Tuesday after the (Kansas spring) race, we were already putting a plan together with them to get another test in, to try to get the tire so it would be a little racier, a little bit better for the teams."
According to Goodyear, the company increased the grip on the left-side tires. To compensate for the increased stress put on the right side, the multi-zone tread will include a "tougher, more heat-resistant compound on the inboard 3 inches."
The challenge was designing a tire with the right balance between grip and endurance to keep the speeds high and the racing exciting.
"We were extremely happy with the maiden voyage of the multi-zone tread tire we brought to Atlanta -- the tire performance was excellent," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales. "We are excited to utilize the same multi-zone tread technology on a different application."
Four drivers tested the new compound at Kansas in mid-July. Kyle Busch, one of those drivers, was optimistic about the impact it would have.
"I thought we learned some things and the (test) went real well for us and Goodyear as well," Busch said this past week, adding with a smile, "they changed the left-side tire compound so we're not on that treacherous left that everybody spins out and crashes on ... including myself three times."
Pemberton said it's likely this technology will be more prevalent next season. It's already used on Goodyear's production all-weather tires and is something the company has been experimenting and testing for years, Pemberton said.
"It's a case-by-case analysis on their part, places they have on the horizon they would focus on," Pemberton said. "We'll take our success one at a time and then apply what they learned at the next target."
The new tire is part and parcel with the evolution of the new Gen-6 car, which has set track records at nearly every venue the Sprint Cup Series has raced this season.
"We know that when you test early on with a new car of any type -- you can even go back to the Gen-5, Car of Tomorrow days -- that the early tests that we did before the cars were optimized really gave us overly conservative tires because the early constructed cars weren't as good as the second generation even internally with the teams," Pemberton said. "The lessons we learned there we try to apply with the Gen-6 car knowing that things would continue to get better, faster.
"I think the point is they can react better for particular race tracks with all these options. There have been hurdles because of only one compound on a particular tire, you always build the tire to cover the worst-case scenario and now you can have the worst-case scenario covered in one part of the tire and the other part of the tire can be the part that makes the racing better."
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