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GREEN TIRES…RIGHT DIRECTION
Honestly, it's not very sexy to talk about tires, but they're the key to unlocking better racing on the 1.5-mile tracks and last Saturday night's Monster Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway went, at least,
Let's admit right up front having Goodyear and NASCAR allow the teams to use two different tire compounds didn't exactly work as well as they or any of the competitors had hoped. I imagined a guy like Brad Keselowski putting on a set of the softer, green labeled tires and just setting sail, pulling away only to see his speed drop off after a few laps and the guys on the "regular tires" reeling him in. I envisioned he's coming back with the other guys catching up, and it would make for one of those frantic finishes the all-star shootout was famous for in its early days.
Unfortunately, clean air isn't just king - it's a monster bullets bounce off. All the downforce and better handling that affords the leader couldn't be defeated by the softer tires. They made a dent, but couldn't blow a hole. The concept, however, clearly has potential. The "green" tires did make a difference, just not a big enough one.
The solution seems obvious, but as to how you actually do it safely is better left to Goodyear's tire engineers. The "primary" tires have to harder, a lot slower, than the "greens", which need to have the breakaway speed that gives up after say 10-15 laps, allowing drivers on the other tires to potentially catch up by the end of a fuel run or the checkered flag. The problem we have now is that most of the cars run the same speed and if you're doing that passing is limited to the first two or three laps after a restart. We need drivers ebbing front to back and back to front to create more drama, especially at the end. If teams are allowed say 12 sets of tires for a race, have three of those the "
This has been done successfully in Formula One and Indy Car racing, so there seems to be no reason it won't work in NASCAR too. Jimmie Johnson thinks it's a worthy path to go down. The seven-time champion just doesn't want to do, what he thinks, are gimmicky things like the wing opening up in Formula One to increase speed to make a pass or the push to pass button that adds horsepower to the engine in Indy Car.
Most would agree the softer tires didn't add much to the All-Star race, but it wasn't a completely failed experiment either. NASCAR and Goodyear are on the right track. They need to stay on it.