NCS: Drivers Uncertain of New Tire Compound’s Impact

It’s no secret that NASCAR is seeking to improve upon the short track package for the Next Gen car. Both fans and drivers have spoken out about the quality of racing (or lack thereof) at NASCAR’s bread and butter circuits. As a result, NASCAR has made multiple changes to the aerodynamics of the car– such as removing diffuser strakes and decreasing the size of the spoiler. After a successful test in April, something new is being tried in New Hampshire this weekend.

NASCAR has made the switch to a different, softer tire compared to the compound used at the racetrack in 2022. Some drivers were unaware of the switch, including 4-time New Hampshire winner Kevin Harvick.

“I didn’t know it was new,” Harvick said. “I had no idea.”

Once he had thought through the change, he gave a good analysis of the tire compound change. 

“I think as we’ve gone through last year and the beginning of this year, there are some places that are a little bit different on the tire compared to the other short tracks,” Harvick explained. “This place is a little bit unique and I’m sure that’s why they switched it up a little bit for here.”

When asked, the field of drivers had mixed opinions about the impact of the compound change. Some expected it to have little to no effect on the racing product, including Justin Haley.

“I’ll have to see but I ran it in the simulator and it seemed similar,” said Haley. “I’m obviously curious, and glad that we’re taking small steps in the right direction, but is it going to be a completely different race? No, it’s still going to be a normal race [for New Hampshire].”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr shared his thoughts before practice as well, and talked about the impact that the new tire could make on the racing. 

“Anytime you soften it up a little bit, you hope it falls off more,” Stenhouse said. “I think for us that’s what we’re hoping for.”

After qualifying, Austin Cindric shared his thoughts on the feel and performance of the tire.

“It’s so hard to tell in practice 1 because we get so few laps. I feel like the heat cycles acted a bit different than what traditionally they have with our previous tire so past that, I think the race fall off is yet to be seen. There’s been a lot of times when we have a lot more falloff in practice conditions or in testing conditions and then you get to the race and there’s enough rubber on the racetrack and all you have is a softer tire…I don’t think we know quite yet.”

William Byron felt like the tires had made a positive change after his qualifying run.

“It definitely feels like it has less grip,” Byron said. “I don’t know other than that, it feels like it’s under gripped which probably will make a good race. I’m excited, I think it will make for a good event.”

Due to the mixed bag of responses, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the race on Monday will go. The potential for tire strategy will, hopefully, make for a compelling race at the Magic Mile

The Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been postponed due to heavy rainfall on Sunday. It will go green on Monday, July 17th at 12 PM Eastern on the USA network. 

Ethan Miller
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