Concord, N.C. (April 15, 2014) –
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TIRE TEST AT MICHIGAN AND ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL FAST TRACKS WHERE TIRES HAVE BEEN THE BIG ISSUE GOING IN AND MICHIGAN WITH THE 200 MPH PLUS SPEEDS.
“I think a lot of us are fighting – on these tire issues – a lot of it is team oriented. The tire hasn’t changed from last year. What has changed then? The ride height rule has changed and the car has a lot more downforce on it. That is what has changed the tire issue. We will probably have to continue to come up a little bit on left side tire pressure. The tire is getting so much load on it when it is on low air because the car is sucked to the ground so hard and has more downforce than it ever did. That is probably most likely what is causing these tire issues. The cars have more speed and more downforce. I would say that could potentially be a problem at any place we are going that fast and put that much load on the tire and low air. That can be a deal anywhere. Maybe those construction side walls and that tire combination are a little different. The left side tire at Michigan, I won’t say hard, but it is a harder tire. It may not have quite the grip level that those other tires did because of the surface of that race track. When you take an abrasive race track that wears tires out and needs a softer tire for grip unfortunately the tire pays the price when it is brand new because it has so much grip. Kind of like here at Darlington on the old race track. The thing had light years of speed for like two laps and then it would slow down four seconds. Those two laps, because the tire was so soft, just punished the tire. When you add that to the extra downforce and zero ride height, that is what is fatiguing the tire at the beginning of the run and it is showing up late in the run. I don’t think we will see that at Michigan. With that repave the tire is a little harder. You could go to any race track and if you lower the air low enough on the left you will have a tire issue.”
AT MICHIGAN I THINK YOU REPORTED A STRAIGHTAWAY SPEED OF 220. THAT IS ABOUT SEVEN MPH FASTER THAN YOU RAN LAST YEAR. HOW DID THAT AFFECT THE WAY YOU HAD TO RUN THE CORNER?
“It really didn’t, believe it or not. It makes it a little more like a qualifying lap more than anything. The corner was about the same. Let’s keep in mind that it was 40-something degrees with a track temp of 66. So it was cold temperatures with high grip and they were testing tires that had more grip. They put a tire on the car that we are not going to race that went that fast. So on the standard tire I think the MPH was down maybe three or four MPH from that. I am not so worried about those end of the straightaway speeds. We slow down a bit in the corners, that is the thing. When they get sustained that high it makes it harder to pass and harder to race. Goodyear is trying to come up with a little more reliable tire and I think they have done that. I am thinking they are going with the dual zone tread possibly, or at least that is what they were leaning toward. We will see what they come up with after all the data. I think that is a better tire because it puts a little margin in the right front. They don’t want to blow a right front at that track.”
IF NASCAR FOLLOWS THROUGH AND CUTS THE POWER OF THE CUP CARS, SAY TAKING 200 HORSEPOWER OUT OF THEM, THEY WOULD DRIVE MORE LIKE THE NATIONWIDE CARS DO NOW. IS THERE ANY TEMPTATION ON THE PART OF YOU CUP GUYS TO GET IN A FEW NATIONWIDE RACES AND BASICALLY ACCLIMATE TO THAT?
“We haven’t talked about doing Nationwide races for that particular reason but I have talked about doing a few Nationwide races just because I miss it so much. I miss driving those cars. It is funny, you put a restrictor plate on them and they go faster in the corner and slower on the straightaway and that really doesn’t accomplish anything if you look at it. Why do you want to speed the car up in the middle of the corner? That just makes it even harder to pass when you do that. I understand they want to take power out and maybe that is a little power and cubic inches or whatever they do is a good reset. If you look over the years it started at 600-something and now it is 900. It is kind of unique or odd that if you lower the power they go faster in the corner which is where you want to slow the car down. You want to slow the car down in the corner.”
WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE OFF-WEEKEND AND HOW DO YOU SEE RICHMOND IN A COUPLE WEEKS?
“I am going to the beach for a few days after this race for a little R&R. Richmond, we have been running good on short tracks so I am looking forward to Richmond. We ran really good there last year and our short track program continues to improve so I am looking forward to that track.”