Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is close to announcing its new deal with NASCAR.
The Akron, Ohio-based manufacturer has been involved in the sport since 1954. For the last two decades, Goodyear has been the exclusive tire supplier for NASCAR’s top three series.
“We are very close to being able to make an announcement,” said Stu Grant, Goodyear’s general manager of worldwide racing. “Hopefully, soon. Hopefully, very soon. Considering that we’ve tested for 2018 and we’re in the middle of making tires for Daytona, we anticipate being around next year.”
Goodyear Racing last signed a five-year extension in 2011 that is set to expire at the end of this year. Grant, a 45-year veteran in the NASCAR garage, has been thrilled with the action on the track in 2017.
“I’ve seen a lot of racing, but I believe in 2017, the on-track racing has been some of the best I’ve ever seen,” Grant said. “I like the idea of the lower downforce and how it has helped the car. I know the drivers want the cars to be easier to drive, but the lower downforce makes the cars harder to drive, and I think that’s a good thing. It gives you the comers and goers. If your car is a little bit off, you’re not going to be able to run up front like you have before.
“I think the lower downforce, making the cars more difficult to drive, has put a bunch of different strategies out there, and I think that’s made the racing better. I wasn't sure about the whole stage concept, initially. But I really like it. I like it from a strategy standpoint, because all of a sudden you have three different races going on in the course of a day, and you see all different types of strategy play out. Of course, here we are at the end of the season, and look at the impact of the stage point system in the outcome of the Playoffs. I think it’s been a great season.”
Goodyear continues to work with NASCAR and the race teams to gather feedback and improve their product on a regular basis. Grant says his engineers communicate on a weekly basis through conference calls with drivers and crew chiefs and participate in a competition committee. Goodyear also has sat in on the drivers' council in the past and meets with NASCAR every October.
“Mike (Helton, NASCAR vice chairman) made the comment at the of the session that he thought the communication between NASCAR and Goodyear is the best it has ever been and the on-track product is a result of that,” Grant said of the meeting prior to the Playoff race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “He was very complimentary and I would have to echo the same thing.
“We have had great communication with NASCAR on the competition side, the R&D side, the owners, the drivers. Just a lot of good dialogue, and I think the on-track product has been really good this year.”