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Goodyear's multi-zone tread tires are an attempt to solve grip problems that came up in the spring race over the repaved surface.
Associated Press | File 2012
Chase leader Matt Kenseth is one of the Sprint Cup drivers who may stand to lose from NASCAR's decision to change tires at Kansas Speedway.
Friday, October 4, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Chase leader Matt Kenseth could be forgiven for a relatively sour opinion of the tire that Goodyear brought to Kansas Speedway this weekend.
It’s not that he dislikes the “multi-zone tread” that made its debut Sept. 1 at Atlanta. It’s just that the defending race winner at Kansas would have been happier with the status quo.
“I would have rather left everything alone, for us, especially after today,” Kenseth said after Thursday’s tire test. “Today was a struggle, and any time something is new and you struggle where you’ve had success, you kind of wish you could go back.”
That’s not happening, though, so Kenseth’s crew will have to figure things out in a hurry.
It’s rare that NASCAR changes tires between spring and fall races on the same track, but vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said it made sense at repaved Kansas Speedway.
The glassy smooth surface of the newly paved track resulted in trouble with grip during the spring race, leaving Goodyear trying to come up with a solution. Four teams tried out the multi-zone tread earlier this summer, and the rest of the field got its chance to test Thursday.
“I thought the track had good grip,” said Jeff Gordon, who’s tied with Kevin Harvick for fourth in the Chase. “It lost a little bit probably due to track temp toward the end of the day. It would help to lay some rubber down but I’m not so sure this tire is going to do that.”
Goodyear has used multi-zone treads on passenger cars for years, but only recently brought the technology to NASCAR. The idea is to meld two different compounds onto a single tire, one of them offering better traction and the other better endurance.
So in the case of the tires the Sprint Cup will be running this weekend, the outer portion of the tire features a more tractive tread for better grip and handling. The inside shoulder offers a firmer compound that helps manage wear for better durability.
“Typically we don’t have a midseason code changes on tires between the spring and fall, but this is a unique set of circumstances with the repave,” Pemberton said. “Goodyear has gone above and beyond to develop tires and bring the best stuff they can to the racetrack. But it’s a test we didn’t have planned on the books to do.”
Jimmie Johnson was the fastest of 38 drivers who tested the new tires during a 3-hour session that was delayed by rain.
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