NASCAR

Hard tires will avoid last year's Lowe's blowout

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Lou from Holbrook, Long Island N.Y.: Why does it seem like there are more and more outside influences affecting the outcome of a race? It seems to me that Goodyear is playing too much of a role. I know safety is a concern, and we don't want to see the tire problems that we saw last year at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but besides safety, tires should be taken out of the equation. Larry McReynolds: There's a fine line there. We do not need to go back to Lowe's Motor Speedway and set another record for cautions. Last year was a very dangerous situation for everyone. When you've got a high-banked, 1 1/2-mile racetrack with a new surface on it, it's just a ton of grip. When you've got a ton of grip, a lot of heat is being generated. When the teams did the first test, they monitored tire temperatures all the way around the racetrack. The tires were well over 350 degrees in the middle of the corner, and the rubber won't withstand that heat. Now, the drivers are complaining that the tires are too hard, and there's not enough grip. We used to run hard tires without much grip, and drivers controlled the cars with their right feet on the throttle pedal. Nothing says that the drivers have to run around the track wide open. With feedback from NASCAR, Goodyear didn't necessarily create a tire that the drivers were looking for. They created the safest package. Are the tires going to be a little slippery and slick when they're brand new? Yes, they are. But at the end of the day, soft tires on a brand-new surface with a ton of grip won't work at 350 degrees.

Speed Mail Larry

All-star race isn't IROC

Nathan from New Philadelphia, Ohio: Would it make sense to make the Nextel All-Star Challenge more like the IROC series in which the cars are set up identically? The premise of the IROC series is that the emphasis is on the driver, and not on the equipment. That would seem to make sense for an all-star race. Larry McReynolds: I can see your point, but at the same time, the Nextel All-Star Challenge is a team effort, not just a driver effort. I love that the team is heavily involved in the qualifying format with a four-tire pit stop. The crew chief and the team will make adjustments during the 10-minute break between the first two segments. Then there's a huge decision and an important pit stop between the final two segments. The engine builder has to figure out how aggressive he wants to be with his engine package. The MLB All-Star Game highlights individual players, but it's about the National League vs. the American League. And I like the team concept from qualifying through the three segments of racing in the Nextel All-Star Challenge.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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