Running conditions, tire grip contribute to high speeds
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Speeds of 214 mph during a Goodyear tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week were impressive, but likely won’t be seen when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the legendary track later this year.
The Crown Royal Presents The Your Hero's Name Here at the Brickyard 400 is scheduled for July 28.
“Speeds are going to be significantly less than what those were that we were putting out there,” four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “… It was cool to go that fast. I thought it was awesome. To have a car stick like that not even in qualifying trim was to me a great experience at Indy. I wanted to talk about it and so did other drivers.”
"To have a car stick like that not even in qualifying trim was, to me, a great experience at Indy. I wanted to talk about it and so did other drivers."
-- Jeff Gordon
The Hendrick Motorsports driver was one of six competitors taking part in the two-day session April 30 and May 1. Others included Kurt Busch (Furniture Row Racing), Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas Racing), Trevor Bayne (Wood Brothers Racing), Brad Keselowski (Penske Racing) and Mark Martin (Michael Waltrip Racing.
Gordon said his team told him he hit 214 mph at the end of the backstretch on the 2.5-mile track. The following day, his fastest time equated to a lap of 187.227 mph. The track qualifying record is 186.293 mph, set in 2005 by Casey Mears.
The combination of tires, a lighter Generation-6 race car and perfect weather conditions each played into the jump in speed. It’s expected that the tire combination that produced the high mph will not be used when the series returns.
“The speeds were up because … it’s a tire test,” Gordon said. “They’re trying different combinations and different tires. The speeds won’t be that fast because that tire didn’t really pan out. It just didn’t lay the rubber that we were hoping that it would … so it had a lot of grip, was super fast.
“We showed up second day, low temps on the track early in the morning and we busted off some crazy laps.”
Eventually, teams were switched back to the tire combination used previously at Indy, he said, and the speeds were noticeably slower.
“It’s a great tire, but it definitely doesn’t have as much grip,” Gordon said.
The series has seen five track qualifying records through the first nine races this year (Bristol, Martinsville, Texas, Kansas and Richmond).
Goodyear’s Greg Stucker said the official tire supplier has been “very happy with our setup over the last several years (at Indy) and we want to be able to match that on these cars.
“We completed two full days of testing this week and we had excellent weather that provided conditions very typical of what we might expect in July -- sunny and mid-80-degree temperatures," he said.
NASCAR’s John Darby, managing director of competition and Sprint Cup Series director, said the sanctioning body took note of the increased speeds. “But that’s why they test,” he said. “A fast speed ... that just indicates a fast speed. Ten laps later it’s less; Twenty laps later it’s less.
“A lot of people like to point out the speed at the end of the straightaway … they say ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going 212’ or something like that. … That doesn’t mean you’re going to see those types of speeds in the race.”
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