Watkins Glen Practice in the Rain

Trucks make history in rain at The Glen By Dave Rodman WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 25, 1999) By all accounts, Goodyear's rain tires worked well in their debut at Watkins Glen. The inevitable day in NASCAR history when rain tires were first used...

Trucks make history in rain at The Glen By Dave Rodman

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 25, 1999) By all accounts, Goodyear's rain tires worked well in their debut at Watkins Glen. The inevitable day in NASCAR history when rain tires were first used in an official championship event arrived Friday at the Watkins Glen International road course when NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams ran two practice sessions for Saturday's Bully Hill Vineyards 150 on a wet track. The first one-hour practice session on the 2.45-mile hilly road course, during which trucks tossed up roostertails of spray, marked the first time Goodyear's all-weather Eagle rain tire has been used in a NASCAR point event and under conditions that historically would have curtailed track activity.

In 1997, the tires were used in practice and qualifying for a NASCAR exhibition race featuring NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka City, Japan. After that, the tires and assorted "wet weather" running gear, including taillights, windshield wipers and defrosters were mandated as possibilities for NASCAR Winston Cup Series races.

They had not yet been used. Beginning last season, the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series had also been under the same mandate. Sunday's NASCAR Busch Series Lysol 200 is the only road race that series contests.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams had been threatened by rain at last weekend's Grainger Industrial Supply 225K at Portland International Raceway in Oregon, but they were never needed.

Saturday's 12th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in the 25-event season; and Sunday's 17th NASCAR Busch Series event in the 32-race season will be run rain or shine, according to the sanctioning body's road course procedure.

While Friday's second one-hour NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice started in damp conditions, it ended on a dry race track and Bud Pole Qualifying was also conducted in the dry. The NASCAR Busch Series' lone practice session on Friday, however, was curtailed some 15 minutes shy of completion when a rain shower hit the speedway and did not allow enough time to convert to wet weather set-ups.

The final NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice was also shortened from 45 minutes to 15 by rain showers.

"This was exciting for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," said two-time and defending series champion Ron Hornaday, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. "We really didn't see any problems with the tires. Our biggest thing was keeping the windshield from getting fogged up.

"Since virtually none of us in the truck series has ever run on rain tires before, I think everyone took it a little cautiously out there. Times were off but we really didn't know what to expect."

In the second practice, faced with a likelihood of qualifying being a wet session, virtually everyone went out on rain tires.

Oklahoma City, Okla., driver Lance Norick, a former sports car driver with some experience in wet track conditions, was the first driver to take to the track on rain tires. Norick, driving the L&R Motorsports Chevrolet, was the quickest of 16 competitors that practiced during the session.

Norick's 83.816-mph lap was nearly 34 mph slower than Ron Fellows' track qualifying mark, established last year. Fellows' fastest lap in the second practice was 112.338 mph, in the AER Manufacturing Chevrolet.

"The tires felt good," Norick said. "It's kind of fun and something a little bit different for the fans."

Billy Hodges, Goodyear's tire technician assigned to the series, pronounced his tire's debut a success.

"The tire accelerates good and straight and it allows the trucks to brake in a straight line, as well," he said. "Overall we were real pleased with the performance of the wet tire. They performed pretty much how we expected them to."

"Even though this is the first time out with these tires in wet conditions, they did what we expected and that is to displace the water from under the tires," Carolyn Ashbee, Goodyear marketing manager, said. "I don't think the driver pushed them too hard, but the tires seemed to hold up well."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Fellows , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Lance Norick