CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 14, 2001) - As NASCAR Busch Grand National Series crew chiefs prepare for Saturday's SunCom 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, they will have three things on their minds - tires, tires and tires. While Goodyear has...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 14, 2001) - As NASCAR Busch Grand National Series crew chiefs prepare for Saturday's SunCom 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, they will have three things on their minds - tires, tires and tires.
While Goodyear has received praises during the past couple of weeks for its new Goodyear Eagles, #1 Yellow Racing car chief Johnny Allen points out that the track known as "The Lady in Black" is relentless at destroying tires regardless of the brand or model.
"The tires are going to fall off from the first time we run them," said Allen. "It doesn't matter because Darlington is so abrasive. I don't know of any way that a tire could be built to last at that track.
"I think the sand on the asphalt is what tears the tires apart," added Allen. "There are rocks on that track that make it seem like you're driving on sandpaper. The key at Darlington is tire management. It'll come down to who can run strong on old tires and still be quick with a new set. We try to space out our Goodyear Eagle allotment to cover the entire event, but the race will dictate our pit strategy. There are times when teams will pit ahead of schedule to get fresh tires. You can't just sit and watch them run a dozen laps on fresh tires at Darlington, so you have to follow them onto pit road."
With good tires being a precious commodity for a strong run around the 1.366-mile oval, the last thing a race team wants to hear over its two-way radio is that its driver doesn't like a set of tires. The phrase that strikes fear into a crew chief's heart is one that all teams, no matter how good, will hear at one point in time.
"With as many tires as Goodyear makes, there is no way possible to make them exactly alike," said Allen. "With all the tires that we use in a season, eventually you are going to have a tire with a harder compound. If that tire is put on the right front, it makes the race car tight. If it is on the right rear, the race car tends to get loose.
"Goodyear has definitely given us a good tire," said Allen. "We haven't had any problems the last couple of weeks. The grip has been good and we like what we've seen so far, but there isn't a tire that can stand up at Darlington."
As much as tires are a concern to car chiefs, Darlington's reputation is always in the back of a Busch driver's mind. As many know, it didn't earn its nickname from being nice to race cars.
"Darlington is the only race track where the driver rolls back on the gas heading straight toward the wall of turn two," said Allen. "That's why a lot of the race cars leave with a 'Darlington Stripe.' There's no room for error when you're that close to the wall."
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<pre> Phoenix Racing's Darlington Performance Profile
Year Event Start Finish Status 2000 SunCom 200 10 18 Running 147/147 200 Dura-Lube All Pro Auto Value Bumper to Bumper 200 11 14 Running 147/147