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Sprint Cup drivers to test tires on Thursday at Kansas Speedway

Updated: 2013-10-03T04:13:58Z

By RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star

Kansas Speedway will have an extra day of racing today that will be open to the public.

Goodyear will conduct a test for Sprint Cup teams to acclimate to the new tires it has developed for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.

Gates will open at 11:30 a.m., with testing from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $10, with proceeds being donated to the March of Dimes.

This weekend will mark the third Sprint Cup race on the repaved and rebanked Kansas Speedway surface, starting with the fall race in 2012.

It’s rare to make a change in tires in the same season at tracks that hold two races, but NASCAR and Goodyear decided to change the compounds in the tire, including a new “multi-zone” tire on the right sides, to better match the new surface.

“As we’ve been chasing repaved race tracks, our challenge is to maintain a good pace and try to put on the best shows that we can,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development.

“We have to follow the evolution of the race track. Early on, it goes through more dramatic changes. … This is for better competition. … The tire will have more grip, drivers can be more aggressive with their setups. The tire beforehand was very conservative, slid around, and the stick wasn’t there.”

Goodyear conducted a tire test at Kansas Speedway July 16-17, with four teams participating: Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford, Kurt Busch in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, Kyle Busch in the No 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Ryan Newman in the No. 39 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet.

In order to minimize any advantage those teams derived from that testing, NASCAR decided to open the track to all teams today.

Goodyear unveiled its new multi-zone tread tire at the Sept. 1 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Goodyear has used multi-zone treads on passenger-car tires for nearly 10 years, and in its NASCAR application, the multi-zone tire features two distinct tread compounds on the same tire — one for traction and one for endurance.

“We were extremely happy with the maiden voyage of the multi-zone tread tire we brought to Atlanta; the tire performance was excellent,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tires. “Atlanta is a highly abrasive surface that wears tires quickly, but Kansas is recently paved and doesn’t wear tires at all.

“For Atlanta, we knew the Gen-6 car would be faster, thus putting more stress on the right-side tires. At Kansas … we’ve recognized that the track seems to have lost some grip, but has not yet begun to wear tires. To address that, we increased the grip on the left side of the car with a more tractive compound. With additional grip on the left, the cars will be much faster, again putting more stress on the right-side tire.”

This combination of the new Kansas left-side tires and the new multi-zone tread right-side tires was tested in July at night at Kansas Speedway to avoid the midday heat and better match the track temperatures expected this weekend.

“We learned some things, and it went real well for us and I think for Goodyear, too,” Kyle Busch said. “They changed the left-side tire compound, so we’re not on that treacherous left that everybody spins out and crashes on, including myself three times.

“And we’re also going to be on the new dual zone tread on the right. I wasn’t a huge fan of the dual zone right at Kansas, but it did get great reviews at Atlanta so I would expect that it will run pretty well at Kansas, too.”

Only the Sprint Cup teams will be on the new tire setup this weekend. The Nationwide cars will run on the tires that were used in the 2012 fall race.

To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to rcovitz@kcstar.com

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