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Goodyear to debut Next Gen tire change at New Hampshire

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, said Sunday the tire supplier plans to debut a new softer tire compound in the Cup Series for the July 16 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“We went to Loudon (N.H.) just a few weeks back at the end of April and tested,” said Stucker, who spoke prior to Sunday night’s All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. “We’re going significantly softer on both sides (of the car).

“All the drivers at the test thought it was a big gain, thought it was definitely in the right direction. That’s what we’ll race.

“Is it enough? We’ll see. I think it’s a good step and then we’ll continue to go from there.”

GoodYear Tires

GoodYear Tires

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

A Goodyear spokesman said the tire manufacturer and NASCAR will evaluate the data from New Hampshire and then determine whether to alter the tire compounds even more before the end of the season.

Right now, the new tire compound is only scheduled to run at New Hampshire.

“The jury is still out,” Stucker said. “We just feel like Loudon can require something softer. We wanted to go with the new short track package and test there. It may only be a Loudon tire. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll use it later in the year.”

Meeting with Goodyear

The change is a direct result of a meeting held last month during the race weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway among Cup drivers, NASCAR officials and Goodyear representatives in which different options were explored to improve the racing product this season.

Driver Denny Hamlin said he left the meeting “very optimistic” with the discussion, and believed one area that could be addressed is a change in the tire compounds.

According to Hamlin, Goodyear officials said the debut of the Next Gen car last year and its 18-inch wheels, shorter sidewalls and wider contact patch prompted them to be conservative and “very common” with the design of the tires.

The hope was that Goodyear could begin pushing the limits based on the information gleaned from over a year’s worth of racing with the new car.

“One of the things we talked about in that meeting – and I think we confirmed it last night (on track at North Wilkesboro) – is our goal is to provide as much grip as we think possible for individual race tracks and then let the teams and the drivers manage that,” Stucker said.

“Sometimes we’re more conservative, sometimes we’re not. Now that we have about a year-and-a-half with this vehicle, I think we can go further than what we were able to do with previous generations of cars.”

Wet weather tire update

From Goodyear’s perspective, the use of wet weather tires in Saturday night’s All Star Race heat races at North Wilkesboro went well.

It was the first time Cup cars have competed on an oval track in NASCAR under wet conditions, although the track was drying fairly quickly. The wet weather tires were used in both of the 60-lap heat races, for about half of each of the races.

“I think if you look at what happened last night, I think you can very clearly say the objective was met,” Stucker said. “I think we proved we can get races started earlier than we normally would.

“We also proved we could race in conditions that historically we’ve said we wouldn’t race in on the oval tracks. From our perspective, the rain tire did exactly what it was meant to do.”

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