Goodyear expects good racing at Phoenix After two on-track test sessions on the reconfigured and repaved Phoenix International Raceway, as well as extensive work done by PIR officials in recent weeks, the new track surface appears to be ready for a great weekend of NASCAR racing action. Goodyear started out the on-track process of preparing for this week's race with a tire test at PIR on August 29-30. Participating in that test were #14-Tony Stewart, #18-Kyle Busch, #22-Kurt Busch, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #99-Carl Edwards.
"We started out with a thorough notebook on the 'old' Phoenix surface and configuration, and combined that with what we've learned from other track repaves over the past several years," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of racing. "We conducted our tire test on the new surface in August and felt like we came up with a good tire set-up, despite the extremely hot conditions we had out there at that time. When we returned for the NASCAR open test in early October with almost a full field of cars, we believe our earlier findings were confirmed.
The combination we decided upon for Phoenix was a tire set-up based on what we run at Indianapolis," Stucker added. "Although these tracks differ quite a bit in length, they're similar because of their high speeds and relatively flat corners. The Phoenix package will use the exact same left side tire as Indy, paired with the Indy compound and construction on the right side with slightly less gage, or tread thickness, to help manage the heat that will be generated on the ultra-smooth surface."
The challenges in this process were many. Not only was the track reconfigured with progressive banking built into the corners, the new, smooth track surface was slow to take rubber. The effort to get the track ready for this week's race has been taken on aggressively by PIR officials.
"One consistent observation by ourselves, NASCAR and the teams during the open test, was the slowness of the track to take rubber," said Stucker. "This is not at all uncommon for a new surface, especially with the new asphalt mixes that are being used these days. Being able to work in the second groove was of particular concern. To that end, the track people have done a great job in working on the surface to get it ready for race weekend.
Based upon a lot of collective input, they have taken several positive steps in working on the track, including having many professional drivers go out there this week in Richard Petty Driving Experience cars to make laps and try to work in the outside groove. The more conditioning the new asphalt gets, the more likely the guys are to move up into that outside groove and put rubber down." Through on-track testing, information gathering with NASCAR, driver input and track preparation, it has truly been a group effort to get Phoenix's racing surface ready for this weekend's events. Goodyear