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Softer tires would end fuel mileage finishes and create better racing, but…

By admin | July 26, 2011

By Richard Allen


It seems as though more NASCAR Sprint Cup races than not end in fuel mileage stretch runs. No doubt at some point around the halfway mark of the Brickyard 400 this Sunday in Indianapolis, crew chiefs and drivers will begin the discussion on their team radios of turning the race into a gas saver run. If you are not a fan of such, and based on comments received here and other sites many of you are not, then one solution would be for Goodyear to bring softer tires to each race.

If tires would not last for an entire fuel run teams would have no choice but to pit before the tank runs dry, which would essentially keep them from planning on late race attempts to preserve gas.

And, softer tires would also create better racing as more grip would allow drivers to race side by side without the fear of sliding up the track into the other car or turning around and into the wall. Of course, in today’s racing air is a huge factor in handling but the more grip a car has the less important air becomes.

However, as the anniversary of one of the greatest tire debacles in racing history is recalled this weekend in Indianapolis, it has to be considered that softer tires come with a price. And that price has the potential be quite high.

In all likelihood, the possibility of repeat of the 2008 Brickyard 400 will deter Goodyear and NASCAR from ever offering teams softer tires. Those two entities are more likely willing to take chances with the bad racing and fuel mileage runs created by hard tires than to risk the possibility of significant bad publicity caused by tires blowing out every few laps.

In many dirt and local racing series’, competitors are allowed to choose between a harder and a softer compound rather than everyone being handed the same tires. However, this will never happen in an organization that mandates virtually every other component on the car. Having choices is apparently frowned upon in NASCAR’s top divisions.

Personally, I hate hearing about how good a particular driver is at saving fuel. I understand that the objective is to complete the assigned distance faster than everyone else and sometimes that calls for using one’s wisdom to come up with creative ways to win. However, it seems that every week NASCAR racing comes down to who can coast the furthest. My suggestion of softer tires, or better yet, a choice of either softer or harder tires could at least create a different type of ending from time to time.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “Softer tires would end fuel mileage finishes and create better racing, but…”

  1. Russ Edwards Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Look at how F1 racing has changed this year! Bringing Pirelli in and mandating a tire that wears out quicker has made their races much more interesting.

    Course it doesnt hurt that they have to offer two compounds at each track, and the cars have to use both of them during the course of the race.

  2. Cotton Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    While I don’t really mind seeing a fuel mileage race, I agree that a softer tire would make it much less likely. As you say, that won’t happen because NASCAR has to have their finger on everything that happens. The tire debacle at Indy in 2008 would have been much more interesting if NASCAR had simply let the racers race instead of calling the mandatory cautions every 10 laps. Car setups are always contributory to tire problems and NASCAR’s intervention prevented teams from making the best of different setups. The mandatory cautions were more for Goodyear’s benefit than for the driver’s. Personally, I’d love to see them offer the teams a choice of tires but that’s not gonna happen.


  3. Buddynoel Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    This is not the discussion to have before heading to the one track that made two tire manufacturers look like complete idiots. Even funnier that Russ mentions F! which nearly went bankrupt after the worst race in history where some fans have made life-long promises to never even watch the league on TV.
    I’ve seen the cords blow out of a soft tire in Turn One and it is like handing a grenade to your driver and telling him that it doesn’t need a pin so long as he never lets it go.

  4. Charles Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    It would be be nice it they had different compounds like the old days, where you could get what was called at the time a ‘Gum Ball” Tire, which had a softer compound that the regular race time! I remember David Pearson and Woods wining a lot of races at the end because of this choice!

    In todays Nascar they limit you on everything, such as shocks, rear gear ratio, etc, and buy doing that they limit passing! Trying to do a spec car and that exactly what you have specified racing!

    Giving the car chief more choices and getting rid of some of Nascars over bearing rules and letting mechanics have a bigger part in the race would help solve some of the problems!

    Nascar needs more heros other than drivers! they need more Smokey Yunicks, Harry Hydes, Hoss Ellingtons,Jr Johnsons etc people who were creative and help make the the ‘CAR GUY” a reason to come!

    Racing is better when you are doing something different than your competitor, not the same as your competitor!

  5. leothedrummer Says:
    July 27th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I believe there is a little bit more to consider here than just fuel milage and tire wear. A softer tire will result in higher speeds and while I’m sure that they boys can handle it, at some tracks, it might end up being a bit unsafe. But at a place like New Hampshire or Richmond? Bring it on!

  6. Cotton Says:
    July 28th, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Uh, leothedrummer, have you forgotten that Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin, Jr. were killed at New Hampshire? And Jerry Nadeu’s career was ended at Richmond? I don’t think soft tires would be any more unsafe at Indy than at either of those tracks. Again, car setup is ALWAYS contributory to tire problems. Indeed, softer tires might even prove safer than harder ones if they led to setups that were easier on tires.