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Teams gather tire data in Richmond prep

July 19, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Teams gather tire data in Richmond prep
Hamlin: 'Some good options' for Goodyear ahead of regular-season finale

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A recent two-day tire test at Richmond International Raceway appeared to yield positive results, but Goodyear officials say they have not made a final determination in tire designation for the cutoff race to this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Tire issues surfaced when the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series visited the three-quarter mile track in April. Several teams had right-front tire problems, some of which led to fires when the tires came apart and wrapped around wheels and portions of the cars' suspension.

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Increased downforce created by this year's cars "really puts Goodyear in a tough spot to build a tire that's reliable enough without making it so hard that it's like concrete," said Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin.

"The more downforce we keep adding to the cars, the more it's going to lead to tire problems. Goodyear is starting to get their hands around it -- I think they have some good options, especially for this (fall) race."

Hamlin was one of six drivers taking part in the July 8-9 tire test. Others were Aric Almirola, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Cole Whitt.

The April races were the first time NASCAR teams had run the new tire codes at Richmond, according to a Goodyear release. Right-side tires featured the multi-zone tread, which uses two different tread compounds across the surface of the tire.

"Once it started spiraling," Hamlin said, "then it caught around the (brake) rotors, caught … fire and burned the tires to the ground." 

There were not issues with left-side tires, which boasted a compound change aimed at providing more grip. 

Tire selection for the April events came after a two-day test at RIR in October of 2013, before the arrival of NASCAR's 2014 rules package. 

"We wanted to get a better handle on the tires," Greg Stucker, Goodyear's Director, Race Tire Sales, said July 12 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "We'll go back and look at the information and data before making a final determination. Overall I think we were pleased with what we saw, and the drivers we spoke with seemed to be as well." 

The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return to Richmond on Sept. 5-6. It will be the final opportunity for Sprint Cup teams to earn one of the 16 spots available in this year's Chase.

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