Goodyear will face "unique challenges" at Charlotte road course test
Goodyear will tackle “unique challenges” as it begins the process of coming up for a tire to be used on the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield road course next season.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series will compete on the approximately 2.4-mile CMS course next season that combines most of the banked speedway and an intricate elevation-changing infield road course.
Goodyear will conduct its first tire test on the course Oct. 17-18 and drivers from four organizations will take part – Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Hass Racing and Furniture Row Racing.
“You’ve got a combination of really, really slow-speed corners that are flat and little to no banking and you want to have the grip to be able to get through that,” said Stu Grant, general manager of world-wide racing for Goodyear.
“With that you also have to have the construction and durability to get through the high-speed corners, because there will be a couple of those, too. The challenge is to balance the grip that you need versus the durability you need to get through the fast corners on the oval.”
Next September, the infield road course race will be the cut-off race for Round 1 of the NASCAR playoffs and it will be the first road course event in the playoffs since the format debuted in 2004.
The course is also the first new track on the Cup schedule since Kentucky Speedway was added in 2011.
CMS officially announced the addition of the infield road course event in May, but there have been some alterations made to it since then, including the addition of a chicane off of Turn 4.
Grant said Goodyear “has had an idea” of the course specifics from which to work, though it has not been finalized.
“We do have an idea and we’ve had a lot of dialogue with NASCAR,” he said. “The way we understand at the moment, they have added a chicane so cars wouldn’t enter Turn 3 so fast.”
Because of the course’s unique combination, there has been discussion among teams that they may need to construct a car specifically for this race.
Grant said, however, that Goodyear and the teams involved have agreed to approach this first tire test with everyone focused on a more traditional road course set-up.
Specifically, Grant said Goodyear will bring a tire that leans toward one typically run at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, which produces higher speeds than the Cup Series’ other road course, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
“We will have short track tires available but at the moment we’re approaching it as a road course type of tire. We’re going to go toward the road course type construction with the intent of trying to have a tire durable enough for the fast corners,” he said.
“If you look at it, most of the time of a lap is on the slow corners of the road course so that’s where you need to have the cars handle the best.”
Goodyear took part in a test of the original layout of the course in January with driver A.J. Allmendinger and utilized a more traditional road course tire for that event.
But the changing course and its unique layout has sent Goodyear into unchartered territory in NASCAR competition.
“We’re talking about something that has never been done before – the combination of road course and oval,” Grant said. “There’s a lot of variables. There are a lot of things that have yet to be determined and our test next month will go a long way to nailing that whole thing down.”
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