The Hot Pass: Goodyear finds grip at Indianapolis
Following a two-day tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month, Jeff Gordon predicted the tires would hold up for the 2009 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
That was a pretty bold prediction from Gordon. Last year after Friday practice, there were some cars that weren't able to complete five laps on the track without exposing the cords of the tires. The problem couldn't be corrected in time for the race and the ensuing race was mired by 11 cautions resulting in 52 yellow-flag laps. Thirty-six competitors completed all 160 laps, but the race ran at a snail's pace of 115.117 mph (three-and-a-half hours in length).
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But from all indications so far, the four-time Brickyard winner's prognostication has proved to be right. After seven tests and more than 13,000 test miles on the selected tire compounds (Left-side — D-4178; Right-side — D-4252), Gordon reiterated after two practices on Friday that Goodyear has indeed "created a great tire."
"If anybody has an issue with tires, it is not because they are wearing out," Gordon said. "(Goodyear has) backed it up with testing and they have now proven it here at the race track.
"What I think is the most crucial is the practice that we had and I think I could have probably run all day long on one set of tires if I wanted to."
Gordon was concentrating on race set-up, so his longest run on Friday was just 20 laps. Lisa Smokstad, tire specialist for the No. 88 Chevrolet, said Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s tires were "totally fine" after a 27 laps run.
"So far, everything we've seen we're very happy with," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales. "The track took rubber very, very quickly this afternoon and continued to do so.
"We got a nice dark groove out there. Tire wear's been excellent. We've got guys that have had 27 laps on tires and still look good, so (we're) projecting well in excess of a fuel stop right off the bat."
Gordon is convinced that wear won't be an issue on Sunday which will promote a variety of strategies.
"The wear is only going to get better as we put rubber down on the race track which this tire does do," Gordon added. "It is going to change the grip level and the balance, but the wear is only going to get better.
"There seems to be some pretty good grip in new tires but they do go away fast as far as the grip level. I think that the wear is good enough to where definitely guys could take some risks on track position being more key than fresher tires."
Status quo at Team Red Bull ... for now
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