High tire degradation affecting IndyCar teams at Texas this weekend

Teams experienced some severe tire fall-off during both practice and qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway.

They ended the first practice 10th and 20th, but removing the zeroes gave Will Power and Josef Newgarden their respective grid positions for the Firestone 600 tomorrow night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Power managed to put together a two lap average of 218.896 mph while Newgarden was only able to manage a 217.835 average. Row two consists of Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Several drivers suffered with massive drop offs from lap one to two, with some drivers losing around one mph from lap one to two. Ed Carpenter was a prime example. When Carpenter went out to qualify, he was third fastest, but after his first lap he was on pole.

Polesitter Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Polesitter Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Power was observant of others’ plight during his run.

“I could see that people were dropping off a lot on their second lap, it was a bit loose for me on the first lap there and wasn’t sure what I was going to do next time around but I was able to pretty much stay flat for the two laps. I was actually surprised at the speed on the first lap,” Power said.

Newgarden’s second position was the best starting position for him since Long Beach in 2012, where he started second besides Dario Franchitti.

“Especially around Texas now, the tire degradation is so high, I think it’s going to be better this year, it’s not going to be as much of a drop off, but it’s still kind of the name of the game is figuring out how to reduce that tire degradation throughout a run, so we focused on that and then threw something at it for qualifying,” Newgarden said.

Justin Wilson had a similar experience with the tires after he qualified 8th fastest.

“The car was sliding around, it was a handful. I’ve come to expect that around this place, you get a little loose here, you push in the middle, and you get loose off. I think the race will be the same, the Firestones, we just abuse them around here, we’re sliding the entire time, I think we’ve got to work that and look after them,” Wilson said.

Firestone brought the same tire that they brought last year to TMS and to Fontana, but the Verizon IndyCar Series made some adjustments to allow the teams to make adjustments to the rear wing angle.

Teams now can add up to 300 pounds of downforce to the rear of the car by adjusting the rear wing angle and adding a wicker. However, tires are still the main focus, especially under the lights compared to the day.

“I think it [tire degradation] will be better. The big thing for us with IndyCar is track temperature. It’s still going to be hot tomorrow night, but getting the track temp cooler through the night makes it easier and easier. Each stint of tires will be a little bit easier to manage,” Newgarden said.

Not everyone shared the same opinion.

“I don’t think it [tire drop off ] matters, they seem to drop and then plateau, like you’ll just run a consistent pace,” Power said.

“I’m not sure that looking after your tires will actually help, it’s hard to say, but we’ll have to see how it plays out,” Power added.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Event Texas
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Team Penske
Article type Analysis
Tags firestone, indycar, josef newgarden, texas, tire degradation, will power